Am I Too Old to Go to School?

Nursing Students Pre-Nursing



I have always wanted to be a nurse and for assorted reasons in my life never got to go to college. I cannot go back to the past and I do regret I didn't start sooner. My life is changing at this point and I am finally able to go to school and finally become a nurse. I am 46 years old and have not applied to any school. I would be starting from scratch. I also have ADHD and do not take medication so it might also make it a little more challenging. It's already almost Fall and I know with nursing programs there is a wait list as well as intense competition to get accepted. Do you think it is too late for me? What would be the best route to take? Thank you all in advance for your advice, comments, and help. I appreciate you all.

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia.

46 is certainly not 'too late'. I think your best first step is to look at programs in your area, and begin on your prerequisite courses. These are courses you need to complete to even be considered for admission into a nursing program. Few and far between are the programs without them.

Good place to start is English 101 at your community college. Almost EVERY nursing program is going to require this.

Good luck!

I do agree with the PP. Since you mentioned you would be starting from scratch, it means you will be taking quite a bit of required courses to be considered for the nursing program of your choice.

Specializes in MSICU.

No, it isn't too late. But just understand that you probably have a couple years of prerequisites ahead of you before you apply, plus 2 years in a program. Go ahead and get started! Working on prerequisites will give you a better idea of how you will fair in a nursing program. Fall classes start soon so if I were you I would go in to your local community college and meet with an advisor who will get a plan in place. There are universal prerequisites to start on like english, math and biology before you even get to the program specific ones like anatomy and physiology and microbiology. Oh, and they can help you with all the things you need to start on like applying for financial aid if needed. Maybe stop by one day next week and get that ball rolling!

It's not too late for you! There are students in my nursing classes who are way older than 40. This Fall start doing your nursing prereqs at a local community college, because those will take you 1-2 years depending on how many classes per semester you take. Do your best in these classes, because nursing is very competitive.

Best of luck :)

My mom dropped out of college in her 20s and then got married and had kids. After 20 years of being a housewife, she decided she wanted to go back and finish her Bachelors degree. Then, at age 45 she decided to apply for nursing school. She worked in the NICU for 10 years and is now a lactation consultant. I know she was one of the only older students in her class, and she probably had to work harder than most younger students due to her life responsibilities. However, I also know that she is incredibly happy that she went back to school. She loves nursing and has a successful and rewarding career.

It's never too late to go for what you want!!!

No, you are not too old. You said, "I am finally able to go to school and finally become a nurse." Go do it! I'm just starting, I'm 45.

My favorite movie quote (from Shawshank Redemption): "get busy living or get busy dying."

Best of luck to you.

Specializes in Clinical Social Worker.

In 4 years you could be 50 and be exactly where you are now in terms of education, or you could be 50 with an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing.

Play the long game! You got this!

Also, you mentioned that you have ADHD. It might be really helpful to get documentation (ie psych testing/eval) to help with disability related accommodations. Minimally, though, the place where you take classes will have some kind of an academic resource center that can help with organization strategies.

I started as a non-20s student, from scratch. A friend told me "you're going to grow older anyway, might as well secure your future".

Specializes in Med-Tele; ED; ICU.

It absolutely can be done but there are a couple bits of reality that you need to accept:

1) The time available for a return on investment is relatively short so, depending on your family finances, you should be very, very careful about the financial costs and opportunity costs associated with this decision.

2) Age discrimination is alive and real and ~could~ impact your ability to gain meaningful employment. I would assess your health, fitness, energy level, and even your apparent age and appearance to get some sense of how likely you are to face this (illegal but common) barrier and then take whatever steps you can to enhance/improve those characteristics. For example, in the months before I began job hunting as a new grad at the age of 45, I experimented with treatments and makeup to mask the dark bags under my eyes. I paid for an upscale hairstylist to give me a modern 'do and was very careful about other signals of aging... posture, word choice, and other grooming issues that I normally don't worry about.

3) Health and fitness matter in this profession, particularly depending what you end up doing. Particularly as a newbie, many or most nursing roles entail 12-hr shifts which are spent mostly on your feet. Again depending on the facility and role, you may find yourself requiring significant core and upper body strength to perform the patient care that's necessary.

How are your knees and hips and feet and back? Have you ever suffered any kind of back injury or chronic back pain?

4) Touching on finances... are you in a position to fail? What I mean is simply that, with all of us, there's a chance of failing the program, failing to pass the NCLEX, failing to find a job after graduation, or failing to find a good job (this latter was what happened to me). It took me 2.5 years of working 200+ miles from home for substandard wages and even worse benefits in a pretty crappy situation. Fortunately, I was in a position to withstand the conditions until I was able to find something better but I had become very discouraged and was starting to think that I had chosen poorly in becoming a nurse in my mid-40's.

As things ultimately turned out, at least to this point, I'm very pleased with my decision and consider it one of the 3 best choices of my life.


I am all for rejecting the stereotypes of aging that pervade our culture but, as with all stereotypes, there is an element of truth in them and it's important to honestly assess your personal situation and not just blindly accept the "you can do it!" encouragement that so commonly follows posts such as yours.

Specializes in LTC, Rehab.

I love answering these 'am I too old?' questions. I got my BSN at 54, and there were 2 others the same age in my class, along with someone your age and a few others in their 40's. The best route to take? If you really want to do it, choose a school and start taking pre-reqs.

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