Making the most of going back to college

When you are sixty-five years old, going back to school is both formidable and frightening. Here's my advice for those who, like me, are returning to school later in life.

Appears in Fall 2010 Issue: Making the most of college (fifth annual)
September 1st, 2010

When you are sixty-five years old, going back to school is both formidable and frightening—but an exciting prospect, nevertheless. I have enrolled in graduate studies throughboth on-campus research and online study at the University of Alberta, working toward a master's degree in Communications and Technology. After two years, I can choose to continue in doctoral research.

I spent two years searching for suitable graduate studies in Canada that I could complete while continuing my journey as an artist. I hope to make an acceptable scholarly contribution alongside a growing body of artwork—and hopefully encourage others along the way. For that is the primary objective of my life, by the grace of God.

I love my refreshingly motivating group of fellow students and great instructors. Learning is one of the best ways to grow old.

My advice for those who, like me, are returning to school later in life?

  1. Get excited.

  2. Erase "old" from your vocabulary.

  3. Check out all your options for on-campus and online distance learning.

  4. Be honest with yourself. Opt for the excitement of learning, not just the letters behind your name.

  5. Have faith in God, who delights in His children who choose to use what He's given them abundantly.

Gerrit Verstraete, AOCA, BFA, is an artist in his Masterpeace Fine Art Studio and founder of the Drawing Society of Canada. He lives on Gabriola Island, BC, where he co-pastors with his wife in the Church On The Rock, a fellowship they began in 1993. Visit and

I have been passionate about fine art for over 45 years, including both classical and contemporary traditions, ever since first enrolling as a young student at art college. Little did I know I'd have to account for that journey in light of the Kingdom of God, when I was called into fulltime ministry. Hasn't been easy, especially since my 'major' form has been figurative realism, despite abstract variations. But then, locally, among the children at the Hope Centre here on Gabriola Island, I am known as 'the pancake man,' because I make awesome pancakes. Now that's a reputation worth remembering.


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