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Returning to school as adult can offer rich rewards

February 12, 2019 | 3:12 am

Updated February 11, 2019 | 10:30 pm

Andrea Crabtree | Photo by AP Imagery

It is not unusual for a college community to be comprised of both traditional-aged students and non-traditional students, which is defined as any postsecondary student 25 years old and up. Andrea Crabtree was just this kind of student when she returned to college at the age of 36.

After graduating high school, Crabtree attended Owensboro Community & Technical College (OCTC) and earned her associate degree. But when she returned to OCTC in 2013, she learned that, due to changes in requirements for graduation, she would have to complete a second associate degree. This time she chose a degree in business in order to enhance her knowledge base so she could continue working at the bank.

About her inspiration for returning to school, Crabtree said, “I knew I wanted a better life for my family. I had heard the statistic that if parents don’t finish college, their children typically don’t. I wanted to make sure my boys knew I was graduating college and I expected no less from them.”

Crabtree continued working full-time for BB&T Bank while earning her degree. After fulfilling the requirements at OCTC, she went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in business management through the consortium agreement between OCTC and WKU Owensboro. While continuing to work for BB&T, Andrea was also running a household along with her husband, Tim, and raising two boys, Coleman, now age 14 and Connor, age 12, all while attending college full-time.

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In 2015, Crabtree graduated and continued to work for BB&T bank, where she is now a personal trust specialist. Earning her degree has opened several new doors for her, including getting her certified trust and financial advisor certification and being chosen to participate in this year’s Leadership Owensboro class.

Crabtree says that there were pros and cons about returning to school at her age. One positive aspect was that she looked at school differently.

“I tell people all the time, ‘You are going to go because you want to and because you see a light at the end of the tunnel. It is the best feeling in the world to walk across that stage, and if you finish you can’t deny yourself that because it is a huge accomplishment,’” Crabtree said.

One downside, according to Crabtree, is having to make the choice between completing school work or having fun with friends and family.

“One year my family and I were on a trip to Gatlinburg, and I had to complete an online test for a class,” Crabtree said. “While my family was having fun together, I was in the library doing the test.”

But it wasn’t a difficult choice, because Crabtree expected nothing less of herself than A’s.

Crabtree said she would highly recommend returning to school to anyone, and she frequently does.

“I was in North Carolina and taking a Lyft to my hotel,” Crabtree said. “When the driver talked about returning to school, I told him, ‘Look you have to go do this. God is going to get your through. He has blessed me richly because of this.’”

February 12, 2019 | 3:12 am

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