Dear Sandra

Dear Sandra,

I am not an AU student, but I was looking through the website and came upon the Voice and your column and was hoping that you could answer a question for me. I just recently celebrated my fortieth birthday and had somewhat of a mid-life crisis. I do not feel that I have accomplished anything in life. I’ve been a stay at home mom, and now that my children are teenagers preparing for college I have no real job or purpose in life other than taking up space. I have always wanted to get a degree, in what I don’t know, but I want a degree. Is forty to old to start studying at AU?

Older Student in Ontario

Dear Older Student,

You are never too old to study at AU. Last year at convocation I had the pleasure of witnessing a brilliantly vibrant 83-year old woman graduate. It was very inspiring and it reiterated to me that you are never too old to learn. When life moves along at a routine pace, that regret – for not having pursued an education or not working – occasionally sneaks up on you. Most people don’t start feeling regret when things are going badly in their lives, but rather when they feel like they are stuck in a rut. The rut you are in right now is a rut of too little personal accomplishment. Sure you’ve got children that have turned out great (I’m hoping) and a home and a husband, but what have YOU accomplished for yourself?

Pursuing a dream makes us happier, so why don’t we do it more often? Simple, because we are afraid of making a change; following a dream involves risks, but doesn’t everything in life? So, where do you begin? First, start small. Don’t commit yourself to a full five course per semester load and sign up for a program just yet. Peruse the AU calendar, pick a junior course that interests you, and if all goes well start taking bigger steps.

Second, forget your fear. Changes are usually associated with stress and pressure but you can revise your thinking and look at it from a different angle: How can this change benefit me? Will it boost my self-esteem?

Third, break free from excuses. I’m sure there are a million reasons why you shouldn’t go back to school: “I’m too old” or “It’s too late to go to school.” These thoughts are the negative anchors that are holding you back, so pick up that anchor and sail away. Finally, get some support. I’m sure that your family will be ecstatic that you are so eager to take this plunge and fulfill your dream. Maybe you can cram with your kids?

Ask yourself these questions:
1. What would I most like to have in my life right now?
2. How will I feel in five or ten years if I don’t get a degree?
3. How did I feel at my last birthday?

I think your answer to the last question should be enough to encourage you to take the leap.

It’s never too late to pursue an old ambition. If you’ve always wanted to get a degree then you go and get a degree. Don’t wait another forty years and look back to say “What if I would have got that degree?” Good Luck!


This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of

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