Americans of all ages are returning to the hallowed halls of higher learning at unprecedented numbers. You’ve been toying with the idea of joining their ranks, but aren’t quite sure if it’s the right move for you. How can you possibly decide if going back to school at this point in your life makes sense?
There is no such thing as being too old to go back to school.
Asking yourself a few pertinent questions may just give you the answer you desire.
If you are unemployed, under-employed, or stuck in a low-paying dead-end job, it may be worth your while to get a college education under your belt. According to “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020,” the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce projects that by 2020, roughly 30 percent of all jobs will require some college education or better. And with the Department of Labor statistics showing a recent unemployment rate of 6.2%–which translates to 9.5 million Americans–you will need a competitive edge to outshine everyone else.
Are you tired of being left in the dust while your highly skilled co-workers secure all the best promotions? You are not alone. “Is It Time to Go Back to School?” states that a 2011 Skills Gap Study carried out by Accenture found that 55 percent of American workers felt pressure to develop new skills in order to be successful in their current career path. Taking an online course or night classes could enable you to secure coveted know-how without disrupting your work life.
Life is too short to spend forty–or more–hours per week doing something that you hate, makes you mind-numbingly bored, or stresses you out. Sometimes, even a sizeable salary cannot compensate you for the feelings of emptiness and unhappiness associated with doing a job you loathe. “7 Reasons Working too Much is Bad for your Health” warns that prolonged exposure to stress can lead to “mental health problems, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and skin problems, among others.” Furthering your education could lead to a career that you love–nurturing both your health and happiness.
More and more employers are offering some form of reimbursement for their employees’ tuition expenses. Walmart and Starbucks received media attention for the introduction of new education benefits earlier this year. And, as CNN’s “5 Hourly Jobs that will Help Pay your Tuition” states, UPS forked out roughly $15 million assisting over 13,000 employees with their tuition fees last year, alone. Taking advantage of this perk will not only give you valuable transferable skills that may help you advance within your current company, but it may prove intrinsically rewarding as well.
Adjusting to student life can be a bumpy ride, particularly if you’ve been away from the classroom for multiple decades. If the people closest to you are supportive of your decision, it will make the transition much easier. As US News and World Reports’ “Is It Time to Go Back to University?” warns “if you have a spouse or children, your decision will affect them, too; it could mean less time together, a tighter grip on your finances, or even a move to a new city.” Returning to school is, in many cases, a team decision.
And never let your age become the deciding factor. You are never too old to learn, try new things, or become the master of your own future.
Did you return to school as an adult? What did you study? What was your learning experience like?
Kimberley Laws is a regular contributor to HowDoYou.com and the author of two blogs, The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss. A "Jill of all trades," she is a High School English Teacher and Certified Career Counselor with a background in makeup artistry, retail banking, and graphic design. She is also a scrapbooking, PEZ-collecting, car enthusiast who loves travelling and New York City.
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