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It's Never Too Late to Acquire an Education
We tell children they can become whatever they want when they grow up, but sometimes we fail to convince ourselves of the same concept.
Are you in your mid-to-late twenties and regret never attending or finishing college?
Do you know someone middle-aged who wishes they had carved a different path than the one that landed their position with little-to-no career development opportunities?
Are you retired and interested in checking a skill off your bucket list?
It's now your turn to apply the same advice to yourself – you can still be whatever you want to be, despite being all grown up.
No matter how old you are, it's never too late to return to school or acquire an education in another way.
The Importance of an Ongoing Education
The greatest reason for lifelong learning is our ever-changing world.
You'll only offer your full potential if you remain up-to-date with current trends. Enrolling in a degree-seeking or non-matriculated program can also help you develop the skills you may wish you obtained at a younger age.
Returning to school is also a personal decision. Knowledge increases our self-confidence and gives us a sense of fulfilment. You don't need to return for a full Bachelor or Master's program; simply completing, let’s say, a photography course will do wonders for your mental and emotional wellbeing if that's what you've always wanted to do.
How Many Ways Can We Benefit from an Education?
The reasons or motivation for returning to school differs with each person, yet life experiences or deep-seated desires fuel the majority.
There are many possible reasons that people over 35 seek an education later in life. For instance, people over 60 may describe their return to school as a way of being social, battling loneliness, and exercising their brain. Others in mid-life are tired of being unhappy with their career and decide to pursue their dreams.
To recap, the many benefits include:
- Personal and professional development.
- An enhanced understanding of the world around us.
- Access to greater opportunities and an improved quality of life.
- Confidence and self-esteem.
- The ability to adapt to change.
- Developing a more satisfying personal life.
- Challenging our ideas and beliefs, which allows us to grow.
Of course, the list doesn't stop there, but it’s important to know that getting an education will have a positive impact on your life in one way or another.
How Do You Jump Back in, Years Later?
The transition from high school to college may be seamless, but flash forward 10, 20 or 30 years and you may not know where to begin.
The task becomes more daunting when work schedules, family obligations and general life sneak into the picture, piled on the common concerns that weigh on everyone, regardless of age.
However, there is always a solution, so take a look at what you can do.
1. Assess Your Current Position
- Is your goal a job promotion or are you seeking professional independence?
- Do you want to master a new hobby?
- What is the end game for six months, a year and 10 years from now?
First, you must ask yourself why you want an education. Pinpointing your desires and goals will simplify the process and help you choose the best program.
Then, take inventory of the skills that you currently possess and those that need to be further developed. Which are essential in achieving your goal?
Compiling a written list may help simplify the process by creating a visual tool that can be followed step-by-step.
2. Make a Plan
Your list of skills from step 1 will also help you in formulating a plan by shedding light on the areas that need more focus.
- Is a certificate all that stands between you and your goal?
- Do you wish you were more confident or more of a go-getter?
- What do you need that will get you where you want to be?
- Is a mentor crucial?
- Do you need to create a portfolio or pass an exam?
- Is school necessary or will an online course suffice?
After figuring out what is it that you need, take stock of your resources such as time and money.
- How much can you spend on your goal?
- What is your daily or weekly schedule and when are the best times to fit classes in?
- Is night more convenient or are you a morning person?
Remember that an education doesn't need to be time-consuming or expensive and that you have control over your future. If returning to school full-time as an undergraduate student doesn't appeal to you and isn't necessary, choose an online program instead.
3. Consider Your Options
While seeking an education, there are two main categories that most people fall into: the online student and the traditional student.
Enrolling in an online class or program can be both cheap and time-effective. It's also a simpler way to get to school, bypassing the inconveniences of commuting and in-class distractions.
In our technologically-driven world, there are many useful resources for online students – from a GED and Bachelor degree to single classes and certificate programs. There are even online graduate programs.
The more traditional, in-class option may be best for hands-on and auditory learners. Though more expensive than online classes, the benefits to physically attending classes include the sharing of ideas and group discussions. And many programs offer both day and evening classes, making them accessible for many schedules.
The important thing to remember is that you have options, so take your time to select the best one for you.
4. Cultivate the Right Mindset
Did you know that older people are usually great students?
Life experience, the need to prove themselves and the desire to actually be there are usually the greatest motivators. And don't worry about being singled out as the oldest person in the class; many younger students recognize the value of sharing a classroom with more experienced peers.
Now that you know what you want and have designed a plan, put it into motion. As the old adage reminds us, the journey of a lifetime begins with a single step, so go ahead and take yours. Don't get discouraged as obstacles approach (and they will). Each cleared hurdle will remind you that the race is easier than you initially thought.
It's truly never too late to go after what you want, even if that means obtaining an education.
Though it may seem daunting, breaking each part of the process into digestible pieces will make it much easier to pursue your dreams.
Be sure that your intentions are clear, make a list to help visualize what's needed and create a game plan that takes your goals and resources into consideration.
As Brian Herbert once said, "The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice." Go ahead and make that choice!
About the Author
Jill Phillips is a freelance writer from Buffalo, NY. She writes about business and tech topics. When she is not writing, Jill enjoys taking photos and hiking with her dog. Connect with Jill via Twitter @jillphlps