Am I too old to go back to school?

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Am I too old to go back to school? Lots of older adults wonder that question. I think the underlying question is: Will I have the time to use what I learn or will the expense be worth the short time I have left on earth? I’ve wondered those questions. Ultimately, deciding to go to college or take other education programs comes down to:
1) Do you want to learn and grow?
2) Will it enhance your life or the lives of your family?
3) Does it enhance your financial situation?
4) Do you just want to ‘cuz? 😉

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When is too old to go back to school?

I knew I wanted to get more education, but I couldn’t decide on the major—English, psychology, theology… I already teach writing, write books, teach lots of fun techie stuff, and even took some classes to see if I wanted to become an ordained pastor. But nothing quite fit…Nothing clicked inside, deep inside.

Until…I started doing some serious genealogy. I mean serious. Like sitting in the Pennsylvania State Library and State Archive searching records, scanning books for names and dates and…whew! Hard, hard sleuthing! And I LOVED every minute. If you know I live in Montana and flew to Pennsylvania to speak, but added on the extra 3 days to do all this research, then you also know paying hotel/food/etc. to do research had to be a passionate hobby, right?

A few weeks after coming home, I casually searched online for programs. I’m an empty-nester mom, right? I have a well established home with my home office. I travel all over the country (and sometimes other countries) to speak and research. So what in the world was I thinking? I let it be for a few more weeks. But I kept searching. And I kept getting frustrated with my lack of knowledge.

I ran into walls in my research that I couldn’t get past because of what I didn’t know or the slow progress because I needed to know more methodology, more and better ways to search. A mystery can’t be solved if the detective doesn’t have the tools. This little detective is going to get some better tools and skills. I registered to take online classes to become a genealogy expert 🙂 When I graduate, I’ll have an expertise in English Records, possibly Scottish and Irish as well with this little designation added to my name: PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies). The only problem is that I keep forgetting what those letters stands for when I tell people about it, lol! But it means I’ll be an expert—and that means I’ll know a little more than I do now so I can dig into those family mysteries!

Getting this kind of education is so much fun as it’s something I’ve been doing as a passionate hobby. Now the additional education adds to my ability to research for the novels I write and to solve those mysteries (when possible) for my own family searches too. One day I’m going to solve the mystery of my 4th and 5th times great grandfathers’. Where did they go? Why did they die? Why is there no found record of their deaths when we know they fought in the Revolutionary War? (And we know more, but we can’t prove through paperwork that they are the ancestors we believe them to be.) Some records were burned during battles, some men died of small pox (but no record of burial?) and some men died battling in pioneer/native skirmishes. Were any of these the cause? I so want to know!

I’m enrolled to start my first class in July to become a professional genealogy lecturer and expert. The majority of my education will be online and in materials. Attending part-time lets me continue with the books I’m contracted to write. I think this is going to enhance the future of my career. But I’m excited because I know it will enhance the kind of research I love to do. I might even be able to help others with it sooner than you think. And graduation? I can’t wait! It’s in Toronto 😀 I haven’t been there yet. 

If you could go back to school, what would you study???
Where would you choose to go?
Did you do what I did and wonder, “Why would I do this at my age?” or “Am I too old to go back to school?”


Published by Angela Breidenbach

Angela Breidenbach is an author, genealogist, screenwriter, speaker, and radio personality.