I am a 32-year-old single mother of three wonderful children. I got married young and my husband left me after he realized he did not want children anymore after my third one.
He left me alone, devastated, and beyond heartbroken. Everything I thought he was, I found out real fast he wasn’t. I have so many unanswered questions and a lot of anger towards him that I have tried to sweep under the rug for years.
Why you might ask? For my three kids. I don’t want them to see that it affects me. I have been doing just fine raising them on my own for the past 13 years now.
This letter is not about my anger towards my ex-husband but more because I need some support right now.
Right around the time my third child was born, my husband made a deal with me that he would help raise the children while I would return to school to finish my college degree. Since we got married young, I never went to college but have always wanted to. When he left me with my three children I had no choice but to put my dreams on the back burner.
My children are in high school now and I feel like it is time for me to try to go back to college. I have been waiting to go to college my entire life, but Mikey I am scared. What if I am too old to go back to college? Will they just laugh at me when I go to apply? I don’t even know where to start? I am thinking I want to go to online school since I still have to work, but I don’t know if I can afford to.
Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for listening.
— Scared to go to college
Dear Scared to go to college,
First of all, kudos to you for raising three children all on your own. That must have been very hard for you to have to do, and surely you are one strong person for going through all that. Second of all, kudos for wanting to go back to college. That’s fantastic.
You can never be too old to go back to college. People have received their degree well into their 80’s and even 90’s. And you are only 32 years young. Lots of people have kids and start their families first and decide to return to college later. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
You have to ask yourself a few questions such as what career pathway interests you? Do you like health care? Education? Business? Start by trying to see what you can picture yourself liking and doing as a career. Then decide if online school would be better, or physical or night school could work with your job. Once you figure that out you can start shopping around for some schools.
Have you ever checked out the benefits at your job? Some jobs will have tuition assistance or reimbursement to help employees pay for college. I would check with your benefits department because that could help you when it comes to financing college.
Depending on what program interests you, there are many types of scholarships offered out there if you are willing to look for them. Chances are whatever school you choose will most likely offer some scholarships.
In addition to your school’s scholarships you can find many scholarships online by looking at websites like www.fastweb.com and www.scholarships. Beware, however, when you are looking for scholarships try to avoid scams and anything that requires you to pay a fee, like an entrance fee.
Aside from scholarships, you may also even be able to qualify for loans and grants. Grants you do not have to pay back and loans are usually deferred while you are in college to where you don’t have to pay them back until six months after you graduate.
Your best bet is to fill out an application called the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Here you can see (based on your income) if you qualify for grants and what type of loans you may be able to receive.
I would start by thinking about what it is that you would want to do as a career and what your interests are. Then start searching for schools to attend. The rule of thumb is if you stay local it will be cheaper than if you go out of state, and online is more convenient than traditional but it could be a little more expensive.
Once you find the school you like, check out what their tuition options are, although it won’t hurt to fill out your FAFSA to see what all of your options are, and then enroll and get started.
You can never be too old to go after your dreams and it is never too late to do something you have always wanted to do. Good luck in your college search and I admire your strength for what you have been through.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle “Mikey” Arana is a 2003 graduate of Mountain Pointe High School. She offers free peer advice, however, Mikey is not licensed or trained, just a fellow friend to the community. All inquiries made to Mikey will remain anonymous unless legal issues occur. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.myaskmikey.com.