Once the children gain greater independence or actually leave the nest, many women feel a sense of loss. Those who do not seek new ventures and set new goals for themselves may even settle into depression. One way to keep this from happening is for them to go back to college to train in an area about which they are passionate. Those who have put their own dreams and aspirations on hold in order to establish a family now have time to explore their own interests and may be delighted to find that they make excellent students and even better employees.
The problem that many women in middle age discover when they consider going back to school is that the years of rearing and educating children has left very little in the bank account to spend on educating themselves. Getting more education, however, does not always have to be a drain on the family financial coffers. Many scholarships and grants offer financial assistance to women in their 40s and 50s who are looking for a way to return to school. Just a few of these are listed below:
Agencies That Help
Many agencies have become involved with helping mature students with re-entry into higher education. The following are known for providing opportunities to older women, widows, women with low incomes, and minority women:
• The American Association of University Women
• The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting
• The Philanthropic Educational Organization
• Soroptimist Clubs International
• Alpha Sigma Lambda
• College Scholarships Foundation
• The Newcombe Foundation
Women can get more details on these college funding sources through a quick online search or a visit to their college financial aid office.
Specific Scholarships for Older Ladies
Some of the scholarships offered by the agencies listed above are available only to women in great need; others target women with intelligence and talent. Some scholarship awards are based on both of these factors. The following are just a sampling of the individual scholarships offered by these organizations:
• AAUW’s Career Development Grants support training in technical areas or for professional development for women who have already obtained a bachelor’s degree and want to switch to another area of study or move up the career ladder.
• The Women in Transition Scholarship is open to women entering their first year of college who are the sole family support and desire to get an accounting degree.
• Women in Need Scholarships awards $2,000 to college sophomores desiring to train in accounting.
• The BK Krenzer Memorial Re-entry Scholarship of $2,000 is open to women who have been unemployed for two years and plan to study a field of computer science.
• The Women’s Opportunity Awards, given through the Soroptimists, helps women who are working on an undergraduate degree and are the only source of support for the family.
Hundreds of other scholarship opportunities may be found if women really have the drive to return to college. Take the first step, and make an appointment with a financial aid officer soon.