Adult Women Going Back to College

They often do even better in school than their youthful counterparts, and many excel. And the years they may have spent working or at home rearing children are paying off tangibly. A number of colleges give course credit or work experience for such life experiences as mothering, volunteer work and caregiving.

More than two million women over forty-five years old are now back in school -- in colleges, and graduate and professional schools either to finish their education or to prepare for a new career. In fact, in the last decade, the number in college has doubled and theyre doing quite well, thank you very much.

The increase of community colleges around the country, which are located close to home and work, has made it easy for women, and men, to fit an academic schedule into their lives. But some worry theyre too old to learn or to complete with all those smart young adults. The answer is They are not too old and they can compete.

In a study at DePaul University in Chicago, researchers found that older women (in this case, over the age of forty), who matriculated in four-year degree programs at both DePaul and Roosevelt University, also in Chicago, gave a better than average total performance in their college work. The women also proved successful in every field of study, and when researchers analyzed performance in terms of grades, they found the older women gave a superior total performance and got more As than their younger classmates, about the same percentage of Bs and Cs, and fewer Ds and Fs.

Fordham University in New York City confirmed the DePaul findings: Older women do just as well even better than younger students.

Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of The Big Book of Personality Quizzes for Women.

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