Autumn, O'Fallon, IL asked Janelle Leafblad, WoodWorks - Wood Products Council

AddedThursday, March 29, 2012 at 7:32 AM

Getting a Degree Later in Life
Hi! I'm 32, married, have a 3.5 year old boy and trying for our second (last) kid. Although I've always loved math and have been a great 'problem solver' I decided to go a different path in college and graduated with an Interior Design degree. This was definitely against my parent's wishes who thought I'd be a great Engineer. That career path never panned out and I've been an Office Manager for the past five years, feel like I made a huge mistake back then and if I don't right that wrong now, I never will. I am looking at Saint Louis University, U of Missouri-St. Louis and SIU-Edwardsville. I know it will be hard, especially while having two kids but I am seriously considering it and have the support of my husband. Another thing that will make it difficult is 10 years ago my focus was not on school so my grades were not good, I just didn't try. My ACT score was 26. Am I being realiistic in thinking I can do this? Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated? Just need honest help. Thanks, Autumn
Related to Choosing a School, Opportunities/Challenges for Women
  • Janelle Leafblad , WoodWorks - Wood Products Council
    Answered Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 7:32 AM
    Autumn, Yes, you are being absolutely realistic that you can do this! There will be obstacles, hardships, and sacrifices along the way but there will also be help to overcome them and support to sustain you through them. I think you will be inspiring to be so brave as to take steps even small, slow steps towards the life and career you really want. I speak from experience as my mother returned to school when I was young. She made college look fun and her challenges grew great rewards for our family. My advice is to get all the information about your degree and the type of employment you will be looking for upfront. These are going to start to look like impossible hurdles but the more you know, the more you can prepare. For instance, depending upon the type of engineer youd like to become, a bachelors degree may not be enough to get you an entry level position. Also, new employees are typically expected to have the steepest learning curve and employers will want you to do some level of travel and work longer hours. College does not completely prepare you for engineering work; in fact your role as an Office Manager has probably taught you more about people skills and project management skills youll need in any employment and highly marketable for engineers. Find out from the colleges youll be applying to who the academic advisors are and ask to schedule a meeting with them. Have a frank discussion about your goals and commitments. As soon as you begin classes, reach out to your colleges alumni office and ask them to set you up with a mentor or join a program like MentorNet that focuses on women in engineering. Best wishes to you on this journey!