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5 Grads Who Went Back to School After 30

Going back to school as an adult learner can be intimidating. Choosing to do so online may feel even more daunting. You may ask yourself questions like:

  • Will I be able to navigate the online classroom?
  • Will I be able to balance work and school?
  • Will I have time to do my homework?

These five Florida Tech grads show that you have nothing to fear. All of these proud Panthers went back to school after 30 and are proud of their accomplishment.

“A Long-Anticipated Dream” – Bethany Royer

Bethany Royer said her friends thought she was “crazy” for going back to school in her late 30s. She didn’t let that stop her – after wanting to earn her degree for over 20 years, she decided to take the leap.

“Obtaining my bachelor’s degree was a long-anticipated dream. Fortunately, or unfortunately, life happens, and I did not finish my degree in my 20s. However, I am forever grateful that everything worked out as it did. Florida Tech changed everything in my life; the potential and possibilities are now endless.”

Royer graduated from Florida Tech with her BA in Applied Psychology in 2014, and is currently working on her Master’s in Organizational Leadership.

Her advice? Don’t let age be a factor. Also, don’t put off finishing your education.

“If you have any desire to go back to school but keep putting it off for a better time, take it from someone who kept thinking a better time would transpire for nearly two decades: Don’t wait!”

“You Can Do This” – Marla McGuinness

 After working for two decades as a supervisor and manager, Marla McGuinness was inspired to go back to school by her husband. A retired Naval officer with 35 years of experience, he earned his bachelor’s degree online. So, McGuinness chose Florida Tech’s BA in Business Administration/Management with a Minor in Human Resources to prepare for a career transition into the HR industry. As she puts it, “In this day and age, you have to have a degree.”

While McGuinness found that taking courses online requires dedication and self-motivation, she also appreciated the convenience of not having to be at class at a specific time.

“The reason is that I like to do online classes it that I can do it in my pajamas! I didn’t have to get up and have a scheduled time where I went Monday, Wednesday and Friday to a class, and get all dressed up. I could sit there with my dogs and type away and do my homework. If I wanted to get up and I had a brainstorm at one o’clock in the morning, I could do that. I could get it done, turn it into the professor. Online classes are challenging – you’ve got to make that dedicated time – but if you can do that, you can be successful. And you don’t have to get up and go to the school.”

Her main piece of advice is to stay motivated:

“Don’t give up. There are times where you may get upset with a grade or a class. My class happened to be math. I wanted to get the math classes over with, but I did not quit.”

“Leave all Bias, Judgment and Closed-Minds at the Door” – Tiffani Smith

Tiffani Smith thought that perhaps the time had passed for her to earn her degree. She dropped out of school after giving birth to her first daughter. Over 20 years later and two more daughters, she never went back.

When her youngest daughter entered her senior year of high school, Smith reassessed her life:

“I realized that I had let years go by without keeping promises I made to myself while making sure everyone else was happy. However, I felt that my time to earn a college degree had come and gone, so I continued on with my life. ”

Turns out, her time to earn a degree was about to begin. After falling ill and being deemed medically disabled upon recovery, Smith was reminded by her daughters that she always wanted to return to school. So, she decided to make the most of her situation by earning her BA in Applied Psychology/Forensic Psychology from Florida Tech.

It had been 22 years since Smith was in school, and she was “terrified.”

“I was also afraid because of my age; I didn’t want to be the ‘old lady’ in a class full of tech-savvy millennials. However, I was surprised (and delighted) by how quickly I became acclimated to the online setting, and by how pleasant it was to log on to my classes and work at my own pace.”

Smith also found other classmates in her age group who could relate to her apprehension and insecurities, which made the whole experience less intimidating. She advises prospective studies “leave all bias, judgment and closed minds at the door” and be open to learning new things. That attitude will help you make the most of your degree program.

“What Are You Waiting For? “ – Catrina Hopkins

 Between motherhood and career changes, Catrina Hopkins had a hard time accomplishing her goal of educational advancement.

At the age of 30, she promised herself she’d achieve her dream of earning a degree. She graduated with her associate’s degree, and then continued to earn a bachelor’s in cybersecurity.

Deciding she wanted to further her education even more, Hopkins chose to earn her from Florida Tech, although she felt that pursuing is online was “risky.”

“The decision for me to enroll in an online program was a risky choice. I was concerned about the value of my education and hoped that I really was as dedicated to my studies as I thought. Needless to say, I was impressed with the curriculum as well as the professors. The ability to not have to attend a physical class allowed me to continue to grow at my company, but to also continue earning that degree that I very much wanted. I think I made the best choice and would do it again.”

“I Have the Ability to Truly Have it All!” – Kim Blais

Kim Blais needed to balance pursuing her education and climbing the corporate ladder in her job. She was able to excel at both with Florida Tech.

“I not only worked full-time while pursuing both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Florida Tech, but I was able to secure three promotions over the seven-year process of finishing both degrees online. I am a single working mother that was not held back by any obligations. If you work hard and focus, anything is possible!”

Blais’ main motivation for earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees was to be a role model for her daughter, Margaux. Raising a daughter while working full-time and earning two degrees is no easy task, but it was all worth it to set an example for her daughter. Balancing school, work and motherhood for seven years, it makes sense that her advice to other students is to stay committed and determined.

“Prior to enrolling, I would advise students to consider their level of commitment to excellence. Once the decision to enroll has been made, diligence to complete tasks and assignments during times like the holidays or planned vacations can be challenging. The program requires a high degree of commitment and sacrifice to succeed in this online environment.”

It’s Never Too Late to Go Back to School

These five grads and countless more show that it’s never too late to pursue your academic goals. Whether you’ve been out of the classroom for five years or 25 years, you’ll receive the support and flexibility you need to succeed with Florida Tech’s online programs. As Hopkins says,

“What are you waiting for? Each day that you postpone is another day that you could be closer to your goal. School isn’t easy, and it takes sacrifice and dedication. But in the end, you will feel good and can show the world that you are a well-rounded person. The personal growth you gain sets you apart from everyone else and will elevate you to a new level in life.”

Are you ready to start on your academic journey? Explore Florida Tech’s .

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