I'm in my 30s. Can/should I go back to college? What about student loan debt?
I'm 32. I went to nursing school for 2 years from ages 18-20 and dropped out because I decided it wasn't the career for me. I love medicine but nurses are really short staffed now. I got an Associate in Computer Information Systems, which these days is about as useless as a high school diploma. All of my credits are more than 10 years old so some or all of them may be expired - I won't know until I pull my transcripts - and the thought of having to start over is a bit scary.
I've been looking into going back to college (Purdue) and I've found a field I think I want to do: Audiology. The thing is, it looks like I'd be commiting to at least a Master's, and I could continue on for the professional doctorate, Au.D. (The respective Undergraduate Majors
page.) I won't go into all the reasons I'm interested, but I have always been interested in the ears, sign language, etc.
But I see so many people saying "don't get more student loan debt." I have no savings, and am in lots of medical debt. I want to be able to make a better life for myself, and I don't think I can do that working retail or odd jobs for the rest of my life. Yet, the idea of committing to graduate school is a bit terrifying... what if I don't get in? What if I change my mind, will I even have a Bachelor's degree?
Complicating this is that while I could do perhaps the first year or two at my local campus (~30 minutes away), the core audiology courses are only taught at the main campus, ~90 minutes away (and not available via distance ed). I fear this would mean I would either have to live on campus (can I DO that at my age?!*) or else get all my classes on 1-3 days a week and commute. Obviously this is going to make the situation more expensive.
So is it worth it, in terms of racking up student loan debt, to go back to school? My family wouldn't be able to contribute anything. And what else do I need to know about going back to college at my age?
*And by that I mean obviously I can physically do it, but can I deal with a bunch of just-barely-adults who want to party a lot? I'm skeptical about campus life.