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Going Back to School

For those of us who dropped out of college the first time, or put off
having any further education at all, there is often the nagging feeling
about wanting to go back and get some sort of formal qualification,
whether it be a Bachelor’s degree, an Associate’s degree, or any one of a
variety of technical or vocational certificates.


The thought of
returning to school after a break can be daunting, especially for more
mature students, or for those who have been away from structured
education for many years. But the rewards of bettering yourself with
further education far outweigh those of staying in your comfort zone,
both in terms of practical benefits as well as emotional ones.

While it may be true that you have managed to support yourself so far
without any fancy diplomas, and many jobs do not specifically require
you to have any kind of formal degree, the truth is that these days,
further education always helps. You can significantly improve your
chances of getting the jobs that you want, as well as being qualified
for even better ones. It’s also essential to consider the psychological
benefits — setting upon and completing any course of study brings a
tremendous feeling of accomplishment, and the resulting boost in
self-confidence can help you not just in your job search, but overall in
your personal life as well.

However, if you really want to do this, you must prepare to steel
yourself against imagined barriers. Don’t let yourself use your age as
an excuse not do do things, or not to do them to the best of your
ability. There is no evidence to suggest that older people have lower
cognitive abilities than younger people, and in fact your life
experience and previous knowledge and can help you figure out many
things that the younger students may struggle with. So don’t sell
yourself short just because you’re not in the first flush of youth
anymore. Plenty of students your age and older have gone back to
school, some even for advanced courses like law degrees and medicine.
Think of it this way: be thankful you made the decision to start now
rather than twenty years from now. It’s never too late to make a fresh
start in any area of education. I myself didn’t go to college until I
was in my late twenties, and although I was worried about being the
oldest person there, in reality there were many, many students several
decades older than I was, and nobody made a big deal about it.

Once you’ve started down the road to further education, it’s
important to keep going. This may seem obvious, but many times even
younger students run into obstacles that make them want to quit school
(in fact, this may have happened to you if you did attempt higher
education before). This feeling of wanting to throw in the towel may be
even more intense for you now, because when things get difficult, it
can be easy to convince yourself that you don’t really need all the
hassle. After all, you’ve managed to get this far without any
certificates or diplomas, right? But the truth is, if your life really
was going that well, you probably wouldn’t have come to the decision to
return to school in the first place. So stick to your guns and don’t
let the difficult times get you down.

Remember your goals; keep them clearly focused in your mind. Don’t
forget that learning to deal with hurdles now, in school, is good
preparation for the more general challenges you might face after you get
your diploma or degree, when it’s time to apply your skills in the real
world. Most of all, though, have fun! School isn’t all about hard
work, it’s also a rich opportunity to interact with people who share
your interests. By choosing to continue your education, you have given
yourself a wonderful chance not only to improve your career or start a
new one, but also to develop into a more well-rounded individual on a
personal level.

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