Returning To School Later In Life

Categories: Professional Development

adult learnersThe shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But life isn’t linear. You may plan out your days, weeks and years to your best ability but we all can’t avoid roadblocks or occurrences that take us off our path. There is beauty within that challenge. Stepping away from the traveled road can take you onto the scenic and most fulfilling journey.

Many adults who take a break from school, whether by choice or due to circumstances beyond their control, feel a sense of fear when they get ready to go back. Socially we are expected to be done with school by a certain age so we can ‘start our lives.’ But what once worked for the baby boomers and the generations before us, doesn’t apply to us anymore. We are the generation that may change careers several times in our lives, put a pause on school to gain life experience before returning and/or using apprenticeships to supplement former education.

Proof of the change in traditional education journeys are how universities and colleges have increasingly offered more and more programs flexible to working adults lifestyle such as evenings, weekends and online. Allowing adults who may have obligations that don’t allow them to be in school full time, a chance to still pursue their education.

When I graduated from university my mother said it was time for her to finally finish her education and re-enrolled in post-secondary school. And although she wasn’t self-conscious about being older among young students, she found that there were many other older students just like her who had returned to school. She wasn’t alone and it made the transition easier. Just like her, many are heading back to school in the next few weeks after being away from campuses for years. It isn’t about the time apart, but the intention and what you do with the time you have now.

Another hindrance that some adults face when thinking about going back to school is cost. However institutions and government agencies that recognize that an educated population is a strong and creative work force, are making it easier to get back into campuses. For example in Toronto, the provincial government passed new legislature that will make it easier for low income students get funding for post-secondary education as well as debt forgiveness for students who are in the low income brackets. As industries transform, there are many workforces who find themselves left to the way side. It’s through education that we can transform ourselves into our best selves.

To those who’ve left the books a while back and are considering going back, just do it and best of luck.