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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

Why You Are Never Too Old for College (And How To Make It Work)

Why You Are Never Too Old for College (And How To Make It Work)

Today’s jobs require continuous learning. Consider how the current pandemic forced the whole world to switch to remote office work overnight. Suddenly, all in-person meetings went to an online format. Now, many employers are telling their workers to stay home and work remotely

After there is a vaccine, perhaps life at the office will return to the way it was. But it is more likely that there will be more flex time, more staggered schedules, and less travel to see clients. All of this requires learning new skills, and college is a fantastic place to learn these skills.

If you are old enough to work, you are young enough to go to college. The only thing required is curiosity, an active mind, and the desire to learn.

As the world reshapes its ways of working together and industries prepare to adapt, now is a promising time to enter into higher education and become immersed in the incubation of innovative new ideas.

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Here are some reasons why you are never too old for college.

1. Going to College Keeps You Competitive

Especially in today’s rocky economy, you could find yourself competing with someone 10 or even 20 years younger. Armed with fresh bachelor degrees, your competitors have an edge unless you get your degree, too, or pursue an advanced degree.

If you find you are at a dead-end in your career, going back to college can help you acquire the skills you need to switch careers. And, just as you are never too old for college, you are never too old to take up an exciting new career.

Advancements in technology, for example, are making some careers obsolete. If you are in a declining industry—which these days spans the gamut from travel agents to postal workers to mortgage brokers—and foresee an inevitable move to automation, you will be better off retraining for a career better aligned for the future.[1]

Now, it is not just people in their late teens and 20s going to college. Today’s college students are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Some 40 percent of people obtaining a college degree these days are adults.[2]

Class cohorts of mixed ages can benefit both young and older students alike. Generational attitudes toward life and opportunities can be shared and perspectives of other generations’ viewpoints will broaden your own.

Additionally, when you go on a job interview, you can make the point that you are comfortable working across all generations.

2. Going Back to School as a Bucket List Item

Maybe you got a great job after high school or couldn’t afford to go to college directly after high school. Now, you have decided it is time to earn the degree you have always wanted to pursue. You may be at a crossroads in your current career, ready to take on a new challenge, or looking for more financial stability.

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Earning a college degree can be a way to fulfill all of these dreams.

When you feel that the time has come to take the leap into higher education, be sure to look into degree options and their return on investment .[3] Getting a college education can be a time-intensive and pricey proposition, and you will want to make sure the cost and the effort will pay you dividends in the future.

Or, if you simply want to augment your knowledge with a few skill-based courses, you are never too old to go to college to hone your expertise. Given how many of today’s careers are rapidly evolving, it is to your credit—and your company’s benefit—that you take initiative in improving your skills to keep up with the economy of the future.

Additionally, you are never too old for college classes to expand your interest and your knowledge in an avocation. Several colleges and universities offer not-for-credit courses on an array of topics—from current events to genres of literature to music appreciation and more.

3. Do the Legwork to Make It Work

Know in advance what skills you are after, and research the type of certification you need. Make sure the schools that you are investigating are accredited.[4] Often, a community college can provide a certificate program that will be all that you need to put your new career goals into motion.

Look into the requirements for admission. If it has been decades since you took a college admission test—as in an ACT or SAT—you may need to take one again. Be sure to make use of the online practice tests to help you prepare. But you may also be able to skip this step (some colleges are waving these requirements in light of the current pandemic).

You may also need to call up your high school and request that they send a transcript to the colleges to which you are applying.

Higher education institutions have several options for pursuing degrees with scheduling flexibility—through online or evening courses, accelerated-track programs, or self-paced programs. And while you are never too old for college, you are too for dorm living.

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Adult students—often labeled “nontraditional students”—in some cases, may never need to set foot on campus. Depending on the nature of your degree, you could feasibly complete it entirely online. However, if you are interested in the sciences, for example, chances are you will need to complete lab work on campus.

Make full use of the institution’s resources and particularly of those serving in the roles of admissions counselors, academic advisors, and financial aid advisors. They offer a well of resources and are there to make your transition into college easier.

If the college offers you the option of having a peer mentor, accept the offer. A peer mentor has already navigated the complexities of adjusting to college and can provide you with insider tips.

As an adult learner, career advancement may well be your key motivator in going back to school. Be on the lookout for any opportunities that can bolster your resume or expand your business network as you immerse yourself in your program.
For example, it may mean that you team with a professor on a research project—and hopefully, add your name among the authors. Or, it could mean presenting a paper at a conference related to your prospective industry. Take on the added work to stand out or make a positive impression.

All these stretch projects can help when you ultimately begin looking for employment with your newly minted degree.

How to Hold Down Your Job While Attending College?

If you intend to straddle the demands of both work and school—which is the usual scenario for adults earning a college degree—you will need to do some careful planning. Recognize that as an adult learner it may take you longer to complete some of the assignments. You will have to organize your schedule to find the time to study.

First, determine whether you can cut back to part-time work and go to school full-time. If you can make happen, you will be able to finish your degree more quickly.

But if you need to maintain a full-time job, find out in advance the minimum course load for enrollment. While part-time enrollment can make your work life more manageable, it may not allow you to be eligible for financial aid.

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It is best to tell your coworkers and boss that you are going back to school—unless it is your intention to switch careers. This will show them that you have the drive to better yourself. When they know what you are juggling, they may be more understanding when you have to leave work early to take an exam.

Some employers have tuition-reimbursement programs to help with paying for the cost. Check with Human Resources to find out if your company offers any reimbursement for attending college.

It Is Never Too Late to Pursue More Education

The attitude that someone could be too old for college is outdated. Fortunately, students attending college in their later years are dispelling these old assertions.

Unlike some students in their early 20s, older students know what they are after, and are better focused on attaining it. If you are an older student, it is more likely than not that you are on a mission and no one can dissuade you.

You are never too old to create a life you love.

More Tips to Help You Go Back to School

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Vicky Oliver

Author of 6 best-selling books on job-hunting and job interview questions, business etiquette, frugalista style, advertising, and office politics.

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Last Updated on June 4, 2021

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

Everyone goes through changes in their lives, whether it be aging, emotional maturing, retirement, parenthood, or entering or leaving a relationship. However, some of us seem to embrace chance better than others. When change happens, we may find ourselves wondering how to start over and make the best of the new circumstances we find ourselves in.

You’ve likely been in a situation where you felt that things just weren’t working out. Whether it’s in your personal relationships or career development, you feel stuck and unhappy with the way things are.

You need that change, yet you’re afraid to make the conscious decision to move because you’re not even sure what change you need to make, or you’re afraid you don’t have time to start over in life.

You might have been with the same company for the last 5 years, and the thought of doing the same thing for the next 5 or 10 years scares you. You want to do more, or perhaps even something completely different altogether.

Or you could already be late into adulthood, where you’ve established a good career path, and you’ve got a lot going on, such as a family to care for. You’re financially stable and could potentially be working towards your next promotion. But, somehow, you’re not quite satisfied with what you’ve achieved.

There’s just something missing. And yet it feels like it’s too late to leave all that stability behind to embark on a completely new journey of discovery.

Why is that so many of us find ourselves limiting our windows of opportunity and potential because we think it’s too late to learn how to start over?

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Meet Jack

At age 37, Jack is a Senior Manager at one of the Big Four and has been working in Audit for over 15 years. He’s got a great salary, owns his own apartment, and enjoys the finer things in life, but not without the heavy demands that his job brings.

On the surface it would look like he’s got life figured out. His next steps would be a promotion to becoming Director, or settling down with someone.

Yet, when I asked him if he was happy with his work, he hesitated before answering. He said that he sometimes wished he could quit his job to do something less stressful. However, he’s become accustomed to this lifestyle and feels that it would be too late to give it up to pursue a new career or ambition.

The external struggles that Jack faces are financial stability, social influences from his peers, the lavish lifestyle he leads, and status or recognition that he gets from continuing with this job. These may be things you’re facing as well.

Internally, Jack faces the risk of losing what he’s built over the years. It just doesn’t seem logical to give up this job for the pursuit of an alternative that would give more meaning to his life.

You might have come across a similar scenario as Jack’s, or you might be a Jack. Whether it’s the stresses and demands of your job, a lack of satisfaction, or a feeling of stagnation, you have to decide if you want to tear down that wall or continue to let it enclose you.

How to Start Over When It Feels too Late

The good news is that as our society continues to develop at such a rapid pace, it also means we have more opportunities to do things that were previously thought impossible. These days, more individuals are pushing the boundaries and breaking stereotypes.

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It’s not just about age or education. It’s about you, and your ability to accept challenges and having the determination to break free from your existing situation.

    1. Gain a Fresh Perspective

    To break free from our limitations, we’ve got to take a step back and gain a fresh perspective on just what limitations really are. On the surface, limitations are things that prevent you from doing something, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find that limitations are the things that keep you constrained inside a loop.

    They keep you stuck facing the same problems, having the same choices, and taking the same actions over and over again. Limitations define the quality of your life. If you want to improve your life, then you must break free from the limitations that keep you in the same loop every day, month, and year.

    It may seem that the limitations that you’re facing are out of your control or something that just happens to you. However, your reality is derived from your perception.

    It’s not reality that’s important, but rather how you perceive your reality. Being able to control how you look at things is the key to learning how to start over and creating a fresh start. Shaping your perception is so powerful that just a small change in perspective can completely change everything, from your motivation and outlook, to your self-esteem and confidence.

    2. Identify the Challenges

    Once you decide to shift your perspective and look at things in a new way, identify exactly what challenges you’ll face as you try to learn how to start over and reboot your life. If you want to change your job, what’s standing in your way? Is it a lack of education, a poor job market, or simply a lack of motivation?

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    If you have just ended a long-term relationship, what difficulties to you foresee in the near future? You may need to find a new living situation, reconnect with old friends, or get used to being alone again.

    To identify what’s holding you back, you can take this Life Assessment for free and get a detailed analysis of how you’re doing in different life aspects.

    Whatever the challenges are, note them down and write down at least three possible solutions. Once you see that each problem has an answer, you’ll begin to put your mind at ease and get comfortable with change.

    3. Check in With Your Values and Priorities

    If you’re determined to start over and change your life, make sure you’re pointing yourself in the right direction as you change. Identify your values and priorities and understand that they’ve likely changed over the years[1].

    When you graduated college, your priority was likely finding a job and making money. Maybe now you’re more interested in developing good relationships with your kids or traveling the world. Be honest with yourself during this process in order to make the most the change you’re going to make.

    You can learn to identify your personal values here.

    4. Utilize the Breakthrough Framework

    The Full Life Framework (as outlined in the book Full Life Essential Guide) provides an overall paradigm shift to turn any limitation into an opportunity that is achievable.

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    By going through each of these four steps, you can transform your mind and actions towards the change that is needed to achieve your ultimate goals, and truly break free from your limitations.

    Step 1: Find the Hidden Opportunity

    It’s easy to see what’s standing in your way. Instead, look for any hidden opportunities that will come out of the change as you learn how to start over.

    Step 2: Plan Your Progression

    Create a plan to achieve the change you want to make. Set a long-term goal, and then break it down into smaller short-term goals that you can work on over the next few months or years.

    Step 3: Invest and Prioritize

    Invest your time and energy into making your plan and goals a reality. Prioritize what you do with each moment and create deadlines to ensure that your plan goes smoothly.

    Step 4: Tap Into Motivation and Good Habits

    Even if you have a good plan, it won’t work unless you develop motivation and positive habits that will keep you on track. These habits can include goal setting, daily reflections, and perseverance.

    Grab your copy of The Full Life Essential Guide to learn more on tapping into your motivation to find your life’s purpose.

    Final Thoughts

    It’s possible to make life changes and learn how to start over. Don’t become a person who lets life pass them by only to regret it when you’re retired or far into old age. Don’t let your life plateau and waste away in the daily grind for the next twenty years while wasting the potential you still have.

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    Tired of being held back by your limitations? It’s time to break free from them, and start living out your best days.

    More Tips on Starting Over

    Featured photo credit: Jenna Anderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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