Old timer in class? It is never too late for education

College can be tough at times.  We are always worried about getting our papers done, doing well on tests and at the same time, keeping a social life.  Even though we try not to give up hope of doing as well as we would like, it can be hard.  But, there is one man by the name of Van McKellar who may help us see that when we feel like giving up, we can always get right back up and keep on going.

After dropping out of the 10th grade back in 1956, McKellar recently decided he wanted to go back to school.  He was accepted into Metropolitan State College of Denver and graduated from there at the age of 72 with a degree in African American studies and a minor in history.

McKellar explained in an interview with the Huffington Post that he dropped out so early because he was a mechanic and was able to earn enough money for his family.  However, it bothered him that he never had a college degree and felt as if “something was lacking in [his] life” which is why he decided to go back to school and earn one.

He was asked if he was worried at all about going back to school and he said, “Yeah, it bothered me a little. I honestly didn’t know because my kids and other kids were saying ‘You don’t know; they don’t do it that way anymore.’  But while I was doing homeschool with my daughter, I was a partner with her during the homeschool and I caught up on my math with all these dummies books and other self-help books.”

It is definitely not easy to go back to school as an adult since there would be a large amount to catch up on and try to remember before even going.  It would also be a challenge trying to fit in with a younger generation of students.  However, McKellar did not find this to be a problem and thought of it as an advantage.

“I wanted my degree to help me relate to the millennial generation because I was retired when I went in, and I wanted to give something back.  I wanted to be a mentor. I could help with substance abuse and be a good church teacher.  Things like that,” McKellar explained.

Huffington Post also interviewed two more adults who went back to school later in their lives.  Ian Kelley, founder of, went back to school at the age of 29.

“It was definitely different because I had gotten an Associate’s Degree right out of high school so I could tell between me and the freshmen, there’s a big difference between 19 and 29, one of the things, like trying to write a paper, took a really long time.  I wasn’t that great at it, but over time I picked things up and figured it out,” Kelley said.

A mom by the name of Sheila Dougherty, who is now a psychology professor, went back to school around the same time as her daughter and both were able to graduate together.

College is not an easy time and there is sometimes more on our plate than we can handle.  Looking at these people gives us hope that if we want something it is possible, even though it might not be easy.  When we see an adult student in class, let’s admire and look up to them for striving toward their goals and not giving up.

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