BANGOR, Maine — By the end of this month, Angel Freeman and her two daughters, Jessica and Sarah, will have a combined total of five college degrees among the three of them: two bachelor’s and three associate degrees. The Freemans earned all but one of the degrees during the last two years.
But they don’t plan to stop there. After graduating this May from Eastern Maine Community College with an associate degree in education, Angel plans to follow in Jessica’s footsteps to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education at the University of Maine.
Freeman said that watching Jessica and Sarah go to school and graduate from EMCC in 2012 and 2013, respectively, gave her the idea to go back. She had earned a bachelor’s degree from Liberty University in 1991, but felt the training in music education that she received then was out of date.
After two decades out of school, she was nervous to go back.
“Let’s face it, I’m not a traditional student,” the 46-year-old said. “I’m old-fashioned.”
She wondered, “Would my old mind be too slow?”
But she found she could keep up in her classes and, like both her daughters, made the dean’s list.
Freeman may not be a traditional student, but it’s less unusual for adults to go to college than it was 10 years ago.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the portion of Americans over age 25 pursuing a post-secondary degree increased by 41 percent between 2000 and 2011. The percent of 18- to 25-year-olds pursuing a degree only increased by 35 percent during that time.
At the University of Maine System’s campuses, 45.5 percent of the population was over age 25 in 2008, while 55 percent was over age 25 in 2011, according to an age report.
The three Freemans never took classes together while attending EMCC, but they said they were able to support each other by discussing their assignments, sharing textbooks and studying together.
It hasn’t been easy, they said. All three worked on top of being full-time students. Angel taught music and voice lessons and continued to homeschool her youngest daughter, Grace.
Jessica worked at Norlen’s Water Treatment LLC and behind the deli at Shaw’s. She will earn her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UMaine this May.
Sarah, who earned her associate degree in business management at EMCC last year, has been working toward a certificate in small-business management this year. She has held a job on campus.
The third Freeman daughter, Grace, is only 14, but is already well on her way to following in her mother and older sisters’ footsteps. She often attends classes with her mom, Angel said.
The Freeman daughters are just as proud of their mother as she is of them.
“How many kids get to say, ‘I got to see their mom graduating from college’?” said Jessica with a smile.