Many different factors can play into the decision to go back to school at an older age.
Many people in their forties and fifties face a career crisis like a layoff and must find a way to reeducate themselves so that they can look for employment in a different field.
People may also be dissatisfied with their current field, leading to a desire to change their occupation.
The unemployment rate for people who have not gone to college or have not completed their degree is as high as 3.9 percent. The unemployment rate for those who have completed a bachelor’s degree is only 2.7 percent. This may seem like a small increase, but it can make the difference between financial and career success and becoming stuck in a dead-end job.
Rakesh Sarna, a hospitality management veteran with decades of experience, explains the different reasons why he believes many people choose to go back to school and the benefits that these people may find when they change their career path.
After a Career Crisis
Unfortunately, even the most experienced workers could experience a job layoff. When these workers find themselves back in the job market, they are often dismayed to find out that their skills are not up to date. If they choose to remain in the same field or change to another line of work, they may find that an updated skill set will help them find new employment.
Other workers who have been working in a particular field for a long time may feel dissatisfied with their career prospects. For example, an experienced retail worker may have the desire to work in an office instead. These workers need continuing education in order to jump to an entirely new field of work.
Many people find that changing jobs, even at a relatively late date, gives them a greater feeling of contentment in their daily lives. If a worker is unhappy in their job to the point where they would want to work in another field, they should be encouraged to go back to school and gain the skills needed for this transition.
After Raising a Family
Often, parents give up their career prospects in order to stay at home with their young children. Some of these parents have no college experience, while others may have a few years. As their children grow up, they may find that they are looking for a way to express themselves and a way to make their professional contributions count.
Going back to school helps these parents regain a sense of self-worth that may have been missing in their lives. During their years raising children, they may have discovered entirely new skills that they would not have found in any other way. Going back to school is a way to use their life experience to begin a new career.
For example, a parent may have ended their college career to take care of a family. As the children reached their teenage years, the parent may gain life experience with family dynamics and with taking care of children with special needs. This parent may choose to go back to school and become a counselor, using their compassion and their new skills to create a successful second career.
Setting a Good Example
Parents who go back to school are an excellent example for their children. Especially if they have teens or college-aged young adults at home, finishing the education they started when they were young can have a beneficial impact. Teens and young adults learn that it is much easier to complete a college education before they have other responsibilities. They are also proud of their parents for completing their education.
The drive to learn may bring people to the decision to go back to school. Intellectual curiosity may lead them to a new field of study. This is especially true after retirement when some people find that they are missing the mental stimulation that they received in their careers. Going back to school can satisfy these needs and help an older person stay up to date.
For example, a retired person could decide that they have always been interested in art but have never had the time to fulfill their passion. This older person could enroll in art classes at their local community college and gain a new skill. This can help older people boost their self-worth and give them a feeling that they have new possibilities in their lives.
Enhance a Current Career
People may go back to school because they want to advance in their current career. Sometimes an advanced degree is necessary to move up in the workplace. It can be challenging to hold down a full-time job while attending a college or university, but many continuing degree programs are set up with this situation in mind.
Even if older workers choose to stay in their current career, they may find that their jobs are in danger if they do not keep their skillset up to date. Working on a degree can help employers see that these workers are serious about their jobs and that they are doing all they can to improve their skills.
Teachers who want to move into administrative positions are a good example. While teachers generally only need a bachelor’s degree, administrators need a Master’s or Doctorate level education. Classroom teachers who want to move into administrative positions like becoming a principal are ambitious.
Exploring Higher Education
Rakesh Sarna underlines the importance of higher education for all, especially workers who want to make a change in their lives. Mature workers should be encouraged to go back to school if they have found themselves at a career crossroads.
Job satisfaction, career changes, and the desire to finish a degree are strong motivating factors. When older workers have the opportunity to go back to school, their career prospects improve, and they are able to stay current with their skills.