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Is it too late to start college again at 26 years old?


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11 replies to this topic

#1 menameta

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Posted 05 May 2010 - 02:50 PM

Two semesters ago, I graduated from college in New York with a Bachelors degree in Psychology. I had a 2.45 cumulative GPA. I messed up during my freshman and sophomore years because I was immature. I watched movies and listened to music instead of studying. Now, I'm working as a lab technician. I don't like my job very much. I would like to become a social worker, mental health counselor, or something having to do with animals. I am 26. I want to continue my education and earn better grades. Now, I am older and more interested in school. Do I have a chance of getting into any Masters program with a 2.4 undergrad GPA? Or would I need to start college from scratch?
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#2 fadeindreams

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Posted 05 May 2010 - 03:06 PM

There's no such thing as starting college from scratch from an admissions committee perspective. Adcoms and graduate school requirements are only concerned with the GPA you receive prior to your first degree being conferred. Any classes you take after your first degree has conferred, whether they be non-degree or degree seeking, will not be tabulated into your GPA. This includes the last 60 GPA that most schools use. They only care about the GPA of your first degree.

You might consider taking some classes in order to prove that you are more focused and better prepared in the foundations of whatever discipline you choose. I did this in order to be considered for Public Policy studies by taking Economics and Statistics courses. I had a 2.97 overall GPA and I was accepted into the University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy. While I don't think that rankings are everything, they are ranked 7th in the nation by US News and World Report. In some ways, I consider this a coup.

Since the disciplines you've listed are quite disparate I would recommend that you get work or volunteer experience in similar fields and then define your career goals as much as possible. Only then will you be able to choose a program that is the right fit for you.

You can also endeavor to distinguish yourself through stellar standardized test scores (whether that's general or subject based GRE), an excellent and well-focused SOP and outstanding references. I personally consider the GRE a test that you can practice and conquer with effort and time. It's not an IQ test but whether a test of your preparation. I didn't really come to this conclusion until after I took the test. Luckily I still achieved scores >75th percentile in all sections.

What is your last 60 GPA? You will need to make sure that you at least meet the minimum requirements of any school to which you apply. If you do not, then most graduate schools will outright deny you without even being considered by the program.



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#3 Medievalmaniac

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 11:43 PM

There's no such thing as starting college from scratch from an admissions committee perspective. Adcoms and graduate school requirements are only concerned with the GPA you receive prior to your first degree being conferred. Any classes you take after your first degree has conferred, whether they be non-degree or degree seeking, will not be tabulated into your GPA. This includes the last 60 GPA that most schools use. They only care about the GPA of your first degree.

You might consider taking some classes in order to prove that you are more focused and better prepared in the foundations of whatever discipline you choose. I did this in order to be considered for Public Policy studies by taking Economics and Statistics courses. I had a 2.97 overall GPA and I was accepted into the University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy. While I don't think that rankings are everything, they are ranked 7th in the nation by US News and World Report. In some ways, I consider this a coup.

Since the disciplines you've listed are quite disparate I would recommend that you get work or volunteer experience in similar fields and then define your career goals as much as possible. Only then will you be able to choose a program that is the right fit for you.

You can also endeavor to distinguish yourself through stellar standardized test scores (whether that's general or subject based GRE), an excellent and well-focused SOP and outstanding references. I personally consider the GRE a test that you can practice and conquer with effort and time. It's not an IQ test but whether a test of your preparation. I didn't really come to this conclusion until after I took the test. Luckily I still achieved scores >75th percentile in all sections.

What is your last 60 GPA? You will need to make sure that you at least meet the minimum requirements of any school to which you apply. If you do not, then most graduate schools will outright deny you without even being considered by the program.




There ARE masters programs that will accept lower than a 2.5, but they are rare, and you would have to fund the degree entirely on your own. Alternately, you can take some graduate level courses as a non-degree seeking student at the university you are interested in attending. If you do extremely well in these courses, and then apply, sometimes the professors you worked with will put in a good word for you and you can be admitted. either way, you need to make sure you explain the circumstances of the undergraduate GPA and what has occurred since then to make you believe you are prepared to succeed at graduate-level work. And then, back up what you have said with strong GRE scores.

Hope that helps - good luck!!!
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#4 chemdoc

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 02:59 AM

Two semesters ago, I graduated from college in New York with a Bachelors degree in Psychology. I had a 2.45 cumulative GPA. I messed up during my freshman and sophomore years because I was immature. I watched movies and listened to music instead of studying. Now, I'm working as a lab technician. I don't like my job very much. I would like to become a social worker, mental health counselor, or something having to do with animals. I am 26. I want to continue my education and earn better grades. Now, I am older and more interested in school. Do I have a chance of getting into any Masters program with a 2.4 undergrad GPA? Or would I need to start college from scratch?


I went back at 24. I had a 2.2 GPA in my original degree and didn't like what I was doing so I went back to school. I finished with a 3.7 GPA and got into graduate school with full funding.

Definitely doable and you're not too old.
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#5 coyabean

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 07:29 PM

26?!!!! Sheesh.

I was 31 when I went back to school. My doctor just recently told me how she went back to school to get the science credits she needed to go to medical school after earning a lib arts degree years earlier. She was in her 40s at the time. A good friend is doing something similar -- going back to a CC with a BA to get some science courses so he can go to med school -- at 30.

So, no, you're not too old.

And to answer your GPA question -- or maybe not answer but to provide some context by way of experience -- I applied to grad schools this year with a 2.8 GPA. I got two fully funded offers and 1 non-funded. It's all doable. You'll need to support your app with as much evidence of your ability as possible. For me that meant research, fellowships, publications, stellar LORs (one from an academic "name). And spread your app around. Those of us with, as my mentor called mine, "challenging transcripts" cannot just apply to T14 and wait to be courted. Apply to public and private, masters and PhDs, be flexible about location and anything else you can be flexible about. If you don't smell and have decent social skills try to meet as many people as possible to increase the odds of having a person rooting for you during admissions.

Approach this strategically and you can make it happen.
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#6 joro

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 12:16 AM

I'm currently 24 and only going for my MS. I plan on doing my PhD when I'm 28 after working for a little while.
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#7 captiv8ed

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 03:25 PM

Why would 26 be too old?
I understand the concern about the low GPA, but 26 is honestly not very old, especially for the types of degrees you are talking about. The admissions committees often like to see some work experience, so I think they would expect students to be a bit older.

For the record, I have a friend who was accepted (and is currently attending and doing fantastic) Berkeley School of Law. She started when she was 40. I started (not went back, started) college at 35 and I will be starting my PhD program in the fall. I will turn 40 in my first year. My husband is 42 and in his junior year. He is doing great and the teachers seem to appreciate his insight and work ethic that I believe stem from his age.
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#8 theregalrenegade

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 04:14 AM

I'm 32 and it's been almost 10 years since I got my BA in History. I had a decent GPA, but just a smidge under the requirement. Even with an awesome SOP, great references, and a fair writing sample, UNLV still was unsure about my readiness for the program. I was denied admission for the fall term, but they suggested I take a few classes to prepare if I want to try again. I'm doing just that and plan to WOW them on my application for the spring term. I'll be roughly 39 when I get my PhD, and one of the best professors I know was 50 when he finally got his doctorate. I think being more mature can only help when in comes to graduate study. I say you are lucky to have taken some time to figure out what you really want to do. Go for it. Posted Image
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#9 UnlikelyGrad

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 01:36 PM

My mom dropped out of college when she was 21. She went back to school part time when she was ~40, full time when she was 49, and got her BA in history at age 51. Then she went on to a combined teacher certification/M.Ed. program, finishing that at 53.

And you think you're old???

Of course your GPA is a little low, but I really think taking a year of classes as a non-degree student would help. (FWIW, my GPA after my first 2 years of college was 1.9. I did much better after that, but that was a big drag on my overall GPA for the remainder of my undergraduate career.)
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#10 cleojames10

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 11:55 AM

It all depends on what your plans are in life. What do you want to achieve in the future? You are never too late to go to school or for that matter do anything you want to pursue. Consider life in a totality, and think of yourself as a writer writing down a story, your story. A life with a job you are hardly interested in will make a story of a boring and frustrated individual, a boring story!! An unconventional yet eventful life will make up a busy and engaging story when you look back at your past at 62. Don't bother about competition and how the guy or girl at the coffee room made it to harvard when he/she was still searching for rubber slippers to bit on........So go back to school and try to right everything you did wrong last time.............It's only when I see my 5 year old's face light up like a candle everytime I get her a 5 cent candy, do I feel like a old geyser!!

Your GPA is low, agreed. But maybe you shouldn't consider a masters program just yet. 26 is young. So build up your profile. Volunteer for social programs and community development. Take classes on subjects you think would catch the admission board's attention. Do well in them. Believe me, I am well into my 30s, but I still want to go back to school for a couple of years, no problem. So unless you have something planned against time, go on and take a couple of years more to build yourself up.
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#11 abacus123

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 03:54 PM

My all-time favorite professor was in a boat not too unlike yours. He graduated school with a 2.7 GPA in physics from a large state school. For the next ten years, he worked - as an air pollution consultant, as a TV weatherman, and as an instructor at a small state school 2,000 miles away from his alma mater. he went back to school (different from where he was teaching) at age 32 after taking a couple of non-degree classes while he was an instructor. He earned his PhD at the age of 37 and was hired by the school as an associate professor. Fast forward to when he was my advisor fifteen years later, and he was the second highest-sitting faculty member in our school. Not too shabby for someone who went back "late".

It's never too late. Take some non-degree classes to show you can handle academic work, and to figure out what exactly you want to do. If you're passionate and put a lot of effort into your work, you can get into a program somewhere.

Edited by abacus123, 13 June 2010 - 03:56 PM.

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#12 Bobbi

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 03:52 AM

I went back at 24. I had a 2.2 GPA in my original degree and didn't like what I was doing so I went back to school. I finished with a 3.7 GPA and got into graduate school with full funding.

Definitely doable and you're not too old.



How did you pay for your second degree, all loans?


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