Justine Bateman: Mom and UCLA freshman

Justine Bateman is finishing her freshman year at UCLA. An actress, producer, mother, and college student, Justin Bateman is now a champion of mid-life women going back to college.

To those raised on the 1980s sitcom "Family Ties," she'll always be the girl who played "Mallory."

Or maybe Jason Bateman's ("Arrested Development") big sister.

But at 47, Justine Bateman is the mother of two (ages 9 and 10), multimedia consultant, and charting a new path far from Hollywood. She's just finishing her freshman year, taking classes in Vikings, Engineering Ethics, Chemistry, and Computer Science at UCLA. 

What motivated her to go back to school?

"I really, really love to work. I love tech, I was half in it. And when I did a search on Monster.com, no matter the keywords I put in half the jobs were for computer programmers and developers ..." Bateman told L. A. Currents.

Bateman has a Tumblr blog "College Life" that chronicles some of what she's experienced so far, but mostly includes links and entries from other women going back to school at mid-life.  Bateman features them in section of her blog called "Smarty Pants Women."

For example, Laura Langston is front and center on the blog. She just earned her masters at 51 years old (Central Connecticut State) and is going to the University of Louisiana at Monroe this fall to get her PhD.

Ms. Langston got married before finishing college, and was later told by her husband, when she talked about going back to school: “I am the head of this house and you are now a mother and you are forbidden to go to school as long as you have children to take care of.”  

Langston writes: "I felt like time stood still as I had never had anyone “forbid” me or try to take my free will away before.  I was in shock and afraid to challenge him on it."

Years later, after getting her undergraduate degree, and her divorce, she writes: "Here’s the really cool smarty-pants women part…. One of my professors in my masters program became a mentor to me.  He suggested that some of my ideas in my field could be ground breaking and I needed to start writing about them and to consider going on in my education.  I made a deal with the universe.  I said I would keep going to school if there was a program that met the criteria I wanted."

She found the PhD program, and adds: "When it came to my education, I often thought I was running behind and trying to make up for lost time.  Now, I look at what I have gathered along the way in terms of experience and wisdom and realize I was on my path and I’m right on time!"

Bateman also features the story of an 85-year-old woman who just graduated from Marian University in Wisconsin with a bachelor's degree. And she has a job offer already.

In fact, more and more "seniors" are heading back to college. Some state universities are offering discounts, and Western Michigan University is offering free tuition on one class per semester to students over the age of 62.

Indeed, some universities and retirement communities are teaming up. "Stanford, Notre Dame, Cornell, Duke, the University of Arizona and the University of Michigan are among the major institutions with university-affiliated retirement communities on or near campus. At Lasell Village in Newton, Mass., residents are actually required to complete at least 450 hours of learning and fitness activities each year as a condition of residency," reports USNews.com.

So, Justine Bateman, if you decide to go after a masters or PhD, it might make more economic sense to wait until you're a little older.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.