Grad School in Midlife

Hey there! Join me while I blog about my midlife grad school experience. Maybe you’ve decided to earn a masters degree? A PhD?  In midlife!

That means we’ll have some twisted challenges, but I bet we’re up to smashing any obstacles we face. Most of my higher education was accomplished as a non-traditional student. You know the kind: single mom or dad decides to quit job and go to college full-time so she isn’t going for the next ten years. Well, I made that decision back in 1997. I earned a B.S. in Biology from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK in 2000. Yes, it nearly killed both me and my daughter, a middle schooler the time. We survived. Barely. It was hard. It was really hard. There were many challenges and even more heartbreaks. Going to college the non-traditional way is not for the weak. It is for the tenacious. It is for those with grit.

So. Here I am again. Graduate school. Yep, I contemplated this for many years, but that was as far as it went; contemplation. Now I’ve acted. I jumped in under the ‘special student’ status in the fall of 2010. LOL, not because I’m ‘special’, but more because I was really dragging my heels on taking the GRE. Anyway, I’ve done those 9 credit hours under the special student status, and am no longer considered ‘special’. I gritted my teeth and took the GRE. Yah! It’s over and I’m in. They accepted me to the program. Oklahoma State University M.S. in Environmental Science with a focus on Watershed Management. Ha! I still plan to tweak my focus toward streams and wetlands. I’m heading toward being a professional wetland scientist.

I’m in my first class as a fully accepted and non-special grad student. Stream Assessment. I’m 53, but what the hey. I decided to do this, and now I’m doing it.

Follow me if you want to go through this with me. I’ll blog about the ups and downs of grad school, classes, streams, watersheds, wetlands, tests, nerves and my last nerve, working full-time in the natural resources field as a stream monitorer and watershed worker bee, and keeping up the GPA. Follow me if you are a non-traditional student. It’s hard. I know.

Next week we’ll be out and about in Flatrock Creek doing some stream assessments…….after a quiz on fish identification and macroinvertebrate identification. We’ll be getting wet next Saturday as we should be collecting benthic macroinvertebrates. LOL, I do this on my real job, so this will be fun. I promise to be back with pictures.


13 thoughts on “Grad School in Midlife

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  1. Hi! That is a great graduate school plan. It is also a chance to help the environment. That is so great. I applaud your moxy and determination. I look forward to hearing more. I look forward to your pictures too.


  2. That is awesome Yvette, I took more time to contemplate, but taking the plunge this year….thanks for being an inspiration and example


  3. I am one year older than you and sometimes think of going back for another degree. Good for you, for doing it! My last grad school experience was so exhausting (in mid-thirties). We need smart women in their 50’s in environmental science. And thanks for answering my question on Howling for Justice. I saw there is a bill now but damn — so many contests . . .


  4. Ahh, thank you, Karen! I’m in my last two classes this semester. After that, I sill have my thesis work to complete and the thesis to write. I should be finished the fall of 2014. The classes I have this semester are the most valuable classes I’ve had in the program, I think. One is an approach to problem solving and I’ve learned excellent techniques. The other is an academic writing class, which I will use those skills in everything I do this point forward.
    Once I’m finished, I plan to work on many of the issues we’re facing with the treatment of wildlife. I’m trying to get Project Coyote to have a presence in Oklahoma and to consider me for the state representative. There is much work to be done. If that fails, I will probably start an NGO, which will be work outside of my regular job.
    This week I reviewed the USDA Wildlife Services 2012 ‘Animals Taken’ report, and learned there were 4,273 coyotes killed in Oklahoma alone, by this federal agency. That doesn’t even count the coyotes killed by hunters, farmers, ranchers, and the killing contests that are held in Oklahoma. There is so much work to be done!
    Have a great day, Karen! Thanks for caring about wildlife!!


    1. Such daunting statistics . . . my undergrad was in Environmental Studies at UCSC. I ended up doing grad school in chinese medicine but miss the activist world (many years ago I worked for Greenpeace to support my Earth First! activities). I am so impressed with Project Coyote. I hope they create a position for you on OK. It is so needed!


  5. Well done. Tenacity is the word, but it is worth it in the end.
    I was a mature student who studied, worked part-time and was a single parent. All at the same time!.

    All the best,


  6. Just getting ready to start pursuing my Masters in the fall – at the same time my son will start college. Today when I took my entrance exams, I must admit that I felt a little ancient sitting there beside people literally half my age. Have you found that you’ve gotten used to the fact that you’re older and stopped feeling out of place – or is there a true disconnect between you and the other students? I guess I’m just worrying a bit here – but hey, I’ve never let that stop me! Haha


    1. I have a child in college, too. I felt ancient when I did my B.S. and my daughter was starting middle school. She’s now 29. At my university there were lots of people that are non-traditional students. Some older than me, but most still younger. But my campus is in the city and off of the main campus. It doesn’t bother me that I’m older. You will get use to it and I found you young ones treated me just like one of them.


  7. Hello, I found your blog because I just turned 50 and am researching my interest to follow though with wetlands education, and hopefully work!


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