The 40 Year Old Grad Student

July 20th, 2011

I earned my undergrad degree in ‘93 and immediately began to dream about grad school. I cherished my castle in the air for the next 17 years, all the while taking UC extension courses on everything from Italian to screenwriting. Every so often, I would peruse a graduate catalog from St. Andrews or click through the San Francisco State website. The thought of ditching my hard-won career to study English Lit equally tantalized and terrified me, so I did nothing. How would I pay for it? Would it be worth it when I finally graduated? Was I too old to go to grad school?

Then two years ago, I noticed an ad in my neighborhood paper for MSMC’s weekend Humanities M.A. program. Now I could have my proverbial cake and eat it, too. I knew after the first weekend of classes that it was one of the best decisions I’d ever made. There are times when I spend the weekend working on a research paper while my friends and co-workers spend theirs relaxing, but I’ve always been that way. In high school, I missed football games and parties to stay home and finish a novel. I may be missing out on some things (I don’t see as many movies as I used to, for example), yet reading Ulysses or writing a paper on Sherlock Holmes leaves me with a constant sense of accomplishment and time well spent. I’m set to earn my M.A. in Summer 2012.

And this is perhaps only the beginning of my adventure. I’m applying to PhD programs this fall. The concerns I have about money, career, and age are still there, but I’ve learned that following my heart is sometimes smarter than following my head.

Are your fears holding you back from doing something you’ve been dreaming about for years?  Start small by taking a first step toward making it happen. You may find it’s easier than you think!



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