Going back to school as an adult can be nerve-wracking, either because you feel like you’ve been out of school for so long and it might be more difficult, or because you’re nervous about being surrounded by freshmen straight out of high school. Your experience will definitely be different than what it was if you went to college after secondary school, but it most likely will be easier for you than expected. With your educated base, age, and experience in the workforce, you’re already equipped with the information and knowledge you need to excel if you go back and study.
There’s a myth that learning new skills are only for the young, but thanks to today’s heightened accessibility to information, mature students can take advantage and grow their knowledge and skills just as easily. Here are the top four benefits of going back to school as a mature student.
- Accelerated programs
Using your time wisely is an important factor when deciding if you should return to school. As an adult, you’re most likely working full-time, potentially raising a family, and taking care of a home, which leaves little time for leisure. The idea of taking an entire semester for a course is probably daunting as well, but thankfully, there are other options. Because you already have a knowledge base of higher learning, you can enroll in accelerated programs and finish your program at a much faster pace. Get your accreditation in much less time so you can continue on with your life and career. Many offer free online training for things like Microsoft Excel and other business-specific programs.
Returning to school in a field of study that pertains to your career can help you meet people in your industry and expand your professional network. Continuing education courses usually have other adults enrolled, so you won’t be networking solely with people in their early twenties. As well, you might feel more confident to approach your professor or instructor and ask for advice or make connections that can help you in your career. It will give you the opportunity to learn from others and gain insights beyond what your course teaches you. Down the line, they may help you find a better position, so it’s worth talking to as many people as you can and sharing information.
- More flexibility
Adult courses tend to be more flexible than full degree programs on-campus that are tailored to students coming straight from high school. Continuing education course professors know that you have other obligations in your life that may take priority, like your career or your family, or any other commitments you have made as an adult.
Courses can be taken completely online for even more flexibility, so you can study and complete and submit assignments from anywhere at your convenience. The number of full degree programs available online is rising at a rapid rate as more people recognize the effectiveness of online learning. You can get a BA in computer science, get your MS in thanatology, or even take a doctorate course in business, all completely online and at your own pace.
- Increased earning potential
One major benefit of upgrading your education as an adult is your earning potential will increase. Employers recognize higher qualifications as a marketable asset and you will most likely be pushed into a higher salary bracket, which is a big bonus to studying as a mature student. Whether you’re looking to make a career change to a more lucrative field, or want to increase your salary cap in your current field, continuing your studies and upgrading your qualifications is a great way to do so.