College is often thought to be a place that is only for young people, for those men and women who have just graduated from high school. Television coverage of college sports certainly reinforces that image, showing arenas and stadiums filled with images of cheering young people dressed in school colors. As we know, though, reality can be much different from what we see on TV.
At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, our reality is that a significant percentage of our students have done something besides college after high school. They come back to us at a later stage of their lives, ready to satisfy particular needs. Some are starting a new degree program. Others are re-starting a college career that may have been interrupted by a need to care for parents, children or other family members. All have something in common: A desire to continue learning as a way to go forward in their lives.
Each semester, I encounter wonderful UWM students of all ages. Rodger is a Civil Engineering major who started at UWM in the 1980s, moved to Africa and did mission work in remote villages, and came back to Milwaukee years later ready to finish his degree.
Becita served in the U.S. Army and moved on to law enforcement before deciding that the health of her community deserved her attention. She now is working toward a degree in Public Health/Microbiology. And Delores had 20 years of nonprofit organization experience before deciding to get an academic degree in Educational Policy and Community Studies that both mirrored her experiences and gave her the credentials to go further.
Perhaps my favorite, though, was from a few years ago when we awarded a degree to Clarence. A veteran of World War II, he had started his academic studies in the early 1950s but had to put them aside when family priorities took precedence. When he earned his degree, at age 87, I said I did not know whether he was the oldest person to ever graduate from UWM, but I did know that there had not been a graduate for some time who was born when the president of the United States was Woodrow Wilson.
No matter what an individual’s college needs may be, there is a very good chance that UWM has the courses needed—regardless of the future student’s age. The best place to start is our Adult and Returning Student website, adultstudent.uwm.edu.
At that site is information about UWM degree programs—including those offered during the evenings and partially or completely online—and about the student services available to support adult and returning students. Also available at adultstudent.uwm.edu is information about financial aid, scholarships and grants.
The University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee stands ready to help students of all ages earn a college degree.