I am now 28, so I was 27 when I decided to go back. I know that doesn’t seem old, but when some of my fellow masters students are celebrating turning 21, its a little weird. :)
I am a little bit lucky in that the thing that interests me (Middle Eastern History, Politics and Language) is in demand right now, so the odds are pretty high that I will find a job after finishing the program. I actually did the program in anticipation of getting a job – I wanted to change jobs before, but everything I wanted to do required an M.A. in area studies or politics.
I had been interested in the Middle East for a long time, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to figure out what I wanted to study, especially since the post-college job was always intended to be something temporary that I could use to pay off my undergrad loans. I always knew it wasn’t long-term for me. I just ended up getting stuck there a little longer than I wanted.
I think the hardest part about the grad school process was getting up the confidence to change, especially after being stuck in the same unhealthy work environment for so long. Also, it was hard to find time to do things like study for the GRE and fill out applications. But if you prepare yourself and spread things out across a long enough time span, it is possible to get it all done without going insane!
If you can identify something you love and can find a M.A. program that relates to it, I would encourage you to go for it, especially if you feel so beaten down by your present work environment. You may experience a temporary cutback in lifestyle that can be jarring at first (especially if you go to school full-time, which was my only option), but I think over the long run it pays off if it helps you do something you love.