Back to School—at 80!

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Back to School—at 80! From Pencils to Online Portals: Why I Chose to Continue my Education at the Age of 80

July 10, 2013

Published on Flourish Over 50
July 10, 2013

By Phyllis Rose

People always ask me how I became a writer. My answer is a simple one: When I was 3, I picked up a pencil and never put it down. I like to think there’s more ink in my veins than blood because writing is something I do not really have to think about. The ink keeps flowing, and I keep writing. Even though it has been 77 years since I picked up that pencil, there are still so many things that I want to say and so many stories I want to tell. The problem is that so much has changed since the day I set my 3-year-old mind on becoming a writer. I don’t see children writing with pencils anymore. They all use tablets or computers! I realized I needed to adapt my writing style to my evolving readers, and learn how to take my writing online. At the age of 80, I decided I needed to go back to school and advance my education by enrolling in an online Freelance Writing Career Diploma at Penn Foster.

You may still be wondering—why now? Why would someone with 80 years of real-world experience choose to go back to school? The truth is, I’m a lifelong learner. I always have and I always will be eager to learn. I don’t think age should stop me, or anyone for that matter, from pursuing an education. As the role of writers in our society continues to evolve, I want to evolve with it. With the help of a career diploma program, I was able to get my first novel published as an eBook, and I’m working on editing and publishing my second novel. Taking my courses online has also given me the opportunity to pursue my career diploma on my own time, at my own pace. I don’t have to fight for the attention of my professors in a traditional classroom. Instead, an online community allows me to talk with students and faculty and get my questions answered. My goal is to solidify my career as a writer, and the courses I’m taking now, which train me in how to promote and publish my work, help fuel my desire to achieve this goal.

My road to penning my first novel and eventually pursuing an online education was not always an easy one, but I took advantage of all the opportunities that came my way. After my two boys grew up and left the house, I seized my newfound independence and did all the things I had always wanted to do. I traveled to France, England and Belgium, soaking in scenes and landscapes that I would use for my novel. Instead of approaching middle-age with fear, I approached it with excitement. I thought about everything that I really wanted to do, and I did it.

Now, at the age of 80, I don’t feel any different than I did when I was 40. I just wish I had done more when I was younger, but I’m glad my age is not slowing me down now. I’m a student, a writer and a mother, and I’m pursuing a lifelong dream of sharing my stories, with online learning tools at my disposal to help me every step of the way. I don’t think I would have all these opportunities at my fingertips if I had tried to plan my life step-by-step. Sometimes, like a character in a novel, we have to step through a door, not knowing where it will take us. I think those are the best kinds of stories. They are the ones that stay exciting, from the time you are 3 to the time you are 80.

About Phyllis

Phyllis Rose, 80, is a lifelong learner with a passion for writing. Her novel “Once Within a Lifetime” is published on Amazon, and she is working on editing her second novel. Many of the scenes and landscapes in her novels are drawn from her own experiences traveling through Europe. Phyllis is pursuing a Freelance Writer Career Diploma at Penn Foster as she continues to work toward advancing her writing career and publishing her second novel. She encourages everyone to pursue their dreams, regardless of their age. 


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