The boomer generation is one that, by-and-large, loves staying engaged. We have seen that with their continued role in the workforce and it goes beyond that into their life outside the office as well. One of the ways they remain active and interested is through further learning. There has been a growing trend of boomers returning to school later in life to some degree. It is a endeavour to be proud of, but just because you’re older and wiser doesn’t mean returning to school will be a walk in the park. Getting a proper education remains a big undertaking that requires work, time and sacrifices — but it can also be extremely rewarding. If you feel it’s time to continue your education, consider these tips for returning to school as an adult.
Decide why you’re heading back.
While there is rarely a wrong reason for choosing to go back to school and continue your education, it is important that you can identify that reason for yourself. We’ve discussed this strategy many times as it relates to big life decisions and it is just as crucial for this decision. Self-reflection, while not always easy, helps to set you on the right path to accomplish your goal. Maybe you want to accomplish something you didn’t in your younger years. Or you want to learn a new skill to help advance your career. Or maybe you just want to enrich your life through learning new things. Whatever your reason, identifying it will can help to inform the necessary choices you’ll be making.
Discuss it with work.
For many adults, returning to school means having to juggle your professional responsibilities with the responsibilities of school. That will likely mean some compromises need to be made. It would be smart first move to discuss with your employer your intentions to head back to school and what that will mean for your work commitments. Maybe some flexibility can be made to your regular schedule to work around your class time. There is also a chance that if the education helps with your current position, you can be given the time off work to complete your schooling. In any case, sit down with your supervisor or appropriate work personnel before proceeding too far.
Ask someone who has already done it.
When undergoing something as time-consuming, difficult and important, it’s always nice to get some perspective on the matter. Pick the brain of a friend or colleague who has gone down a similar path. If you don’t have any close acquaintances who have, seek someone out. While everyone’s experience will likely differ quite a bit, there’s so many helpful things you can learn. What difficulties did they face? How is the community of older students? What would they do differently if they had the chance? With these insights, you can go in a little more prepared.
Come up with a time management plan.
As mentioned before, you’re likely going to have a significant amount on your plate at times. While going back to school is a move that should be applauded, if you can balance the school work with your other responsibilities than you shouldn’t do it at all. Set out a plan for how you will balance all your work and set a detailed schedule to prove to yourself that you can achieve it. Stay committed and disciplined, while also willing to make changes when necessary.
Do some research into schools.
If it was your child going to school you would have them endlessly researching the right school for their education. You need to take a similar approach with your own selection of a school. Sure, you can’t be a flexible as a young student right out of high school given your other responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean you should just settle for the closest school. Visit the campuses, sit in on lectures, talk to professors, request syllabi. The more information you have, the more your decision is informed.
Consult your family.
While this is very much a personal decision you are making, it’s only fair that you open it up to your loved ones. Ask them what their feelings are on the matter. What reservations do they have? What difficulties will it pose to the family? What advice do they have for you? When you can discuss these decisions with the people you trust most, it allows for honest and respectful discussions that can only benefit your decision.