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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Ready to Pursue Second Career May Have Run out of Time

DEAR ABBY: I am a divorced 53-year-old woman. My children are grown, and I have a good career in HR and payroll. It's not my dream job, though. I applied to and was accepted into a Master of Architecture program, but I just found out they will accept only 12 credits from my associate's degree, which means I will need five years of full-time college to achieve my dream, while working full-time, of course.

I'll be 58 when I graduate and probably should be planning for retirement, not taking on $100,000 in student loans. Should I abandon this dream? Have I run out of time to take on such a lofty goal? Or should I just sit back and relax and travel now that my kids are grown? By the way, my retirement goal was age 72. -- NOT SURE IN MICHIGAN

DEAR NOT SURE: What you are contemplating takes a great deal of stamina. Some individuals in their 50s are up for the challenge, others not so much. Before you commit, talk to a guidance counselor at the school to explore what opportunities might be available to an older graduate with no work experience in the field.

Would you still plan to retire at 72? Your student loans could take many more years to pay off if you don't quickly become a high-earning architect, so consider your next move carefully and receive as much unbiased counsel as you can before making a final decision.

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