(106) When Reason is an Excuse: Busting the Myths about Going Back to School

Molly, the service dog

Golly, Miss Molly

A Blog about a Service Dog and her Veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the Veteran and the Family Caregiver)

The Difference Between a Reason and an Excuse

One of my Veteran’s favorite lines from a movie is, “There’s no difference between a reason and an excuse.” When I offer reasons why Molly misbehaves, my husband levels his favorite line at me, reminding me that Molly is a service dog and must perform just like a prosthetic leg. While she performs admirably most of the time, occasionally she forgets her training and manners. It is the same response, “No excuse.”

What does this have to do with going back to school? As an adjunct professor for 17 years and a long-time city manager, I heard every excuse imaginable for any and every situation. I encourage adults, regardless of age, to go back to school when they aimlessly wander, telling me they do not fit in society. Others complain they are stuck in a dead-end job or are unfulfilled in their careers. I suggest they get a degree or a certificate, take an on-line class, or check out their local community college for interesting classes. Often, those searching for purpose stumble away, mumbling, “I just have to figure it out.”

So Figure it Out

My favorite line is from the movie, Bourne Identity. When Jason Bourne tells his companion, “I have to figure it out,” referring to why assassins are trying to kill him after he experiences amnesia, his companion responds, “So figure it out.”

That is where education comes in—it helps you figure things out. Education gives you the time and space to think through issues and problems in life. It offers a safe environment for thinking and rethinking your personal philosophy. School offers comradery by bringing others with similar mindsets together to resolve crises. It equips you with information to find your way. It empowers, praises, and challenges while teaching you how to overcome obstacles.

So why don’t the masses head for the local university or jump online for a free course? Molly, William, and I created a list of reasons for not going back to school accompanied by a response about why it is just an excuse. Let us bust the myths to encourage you to take the plunge and start your education today! Here are the first five.

 Top Five Reasons for Not Going Back to School  

Myth #

Reason is an Excuse

Busted Myth


I’m too old Nope, you’re never too old for school. Leo Plass graduated from Eastern Oregon University at the age of 99. Nola Ochs graduated at the age of 95 from Fort Hayes University in Kansas; she went on to earn her Master’s degree at the age of 98. If they can do it, so can you.


I’m too busy We all have the same number of hours in the day—24. School teaches you to organize your day and discard less important things that occupy your time. Efficiency comes naturally once you take the plunge into your education, especially for someone trained by the military.


I’m not smart enough That’s why school is perfect for you—to get smarter.


I’m disabled and there are at least 100 stairs to get to the administration building School is a public place and, therefore, must meet ADA guidelines. Schools offer accessibility for every disability, and must make reasonable accommodations for you. This might include arranging special parking, giving you a note-taker, offering someone to push your wheelchair, driving you to your location, or most anything else you need. By the way, the (DOJ) Department of Justice took on MIT and Harvard for failure to offer reasonable accommodations for their free on-line school and changes are being made.


I can’t afford school The VA offers tremendous financial benefits for Veterans and educational incentives for their families (ask if you qualify for vocational rehab). States offer various incentives, which may include educational benefits for Veterans and their families. Be sure to check out your school’s financial aid office, as they will connect you with grants and other monetary aide. You can find free on-line programs such as Coursera, which coordinates free classes with universities worldwide.

Reasons/Excuses and Myth Busting continues in Miss Molly’s Friday blog

Post your Comments: 

What is your excuse for not going back to school? Please reply below.  

About the blogger 

Dr. Penelope “Penny” Culbreth-Graft is a retired city manager and graduate professor. She lives with her disabled Vietnam Veteran husband, William, and his service dog, Molly, on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. She writes, paints, cares for her husband, and spends time with her granddaughter.