Every year at this time, the kids go back to school, and we begin to settle into our Fall routine. If you’re in a career transition, you may also be thinking about hitting the books again.
You can have too much of a lot of things, but you can never have too much education. In our current job market, it’s more important than ever to be up-to-date on the newest computer programs, techniques, research, and advances in your field. Web skills are becoming extremely important, especially in industries like direct mail, publishing and printing, where the ways of operating are being totally overhauled. Even the seemingly-indestructible health care industry is shifting. The more knowledge you accumulate, the wider your skill set becomes, and the broader the range of jobs and careers you’ll be suited for.
Yet some of us, as adults, attach a stigma to going back to school—as if, by realizing that we need or want to further our education, we must also admitting that we’re lacking in some area, or that we made poor decisions in our past. Age is also a big factor for some people: they feel that they’re simply too old to go back to school. We tell ourselves a lot of negative stories, and set up roadblocks for based on our insecurities. But are these really protecting us, or just holding us back?
As human beings, we’re always learning and adapting—and we’ll keep learning and adapting, in one way or another, for the rest of our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not. When I went back to school in my 30s, I felt like I might be too old—until I sat down next to a 65-year-old grandmother in one of my classes. Surrounded by kids a third her age, she wasn’t self-conscious at all; by admitting that she didn’t know everything she wanted to know, she freed herself to learn.
Sometimes, our worries about continuing education are financial—but even these shouldn’t hold us back. There are programs in the recent government stimulus package which delegate money to help adults go back to school. If you’re currently receiving unemployment benefits, you might also qualify for aid. And, there are always student loans, grants, and scholarships to help you out (check out the FAFSA site at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/). If your unemployment benefits are running out extensions may be available click here
In the end, it’s all about perspective. If you find yourself needing to return to school in order to compete in the job market, don’t look at it as a punishment: see it as an opportunity. Not only will you be exposed to new skills and ideas, you might set foot on a completely new path, one you would never have seen otherwise.