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Why Are Adults Heading Back To School?

May 17, 2018

It’s graduation time all across the country. The time of year university students are throwing their caps in the air and celebrating their years of hard work. You may be even attending one or two of these ceremonies yourself. Maybe a son, daughter, niece or nephew will be walking across that stage. But while you’re there, take a look around at the graduating class and see if it might be a bit different than you were expecting.

The university world is changing. While campuses are no doubt still heavily populated with fresh-faced youngsters, there is a growing movement that is seeing more and more adults heading back to the classrooms. So why are boomers now reigniting their interest in learning? What can be gained from going back to school as an adult? The short answer – a whole lot.

Career goals

Maybe you were one of those rare and lucky students who knew exactly what career they wanted to pursue and were able to map out their education accordingly. But for many of us, when we entered university we were blank slates waiting to be inspired. Adult students have a leg up in this respect. Many are returning to school as a way to augment their already established careers, therefore they come with a much more targeted goal for their education. Some look to reach that next level in their careers by achieving specialized degrees. Others seek to learn new skills and gain new knowledge that can help them become better professionals. Some are even starting from scratch, heading out on a new career path. As school was the stepping stone we used to start our careers, it only makes sense so many are returning to enrich their careers.

Retirement plans

While some return to school to further their professional life, others are using school as a replacement for their professional life. Despite the fact that many older professionals continue working, retirement does still exist and some are finding they have done all they can with their careers. What’s the next move, then, for a professional-minded individual looking to maintain an engaging routine and challenge themselves? Really, the answer seems pretty clear. For some, education has always been the retirement plan. They have enjoyed their career but they have other achievements that only continued education can provide. As many worry about maintaining a fulfilling life during retirement, this certainly seems like an ideal option.

Missed opportunities

At the age when we are leaving high school behind and setting out on the rest of our lives, the world seemed filled with opportunities. But that doesn’t mean those opportunities were what we had expected, or as available to us as we had hoped. University wasn’t the path for everyone. Whether not having the means or the desire to continue their education, it’s an experience that some had missed. There are plenty of those people who have no regrets about how things turned out, but some see it as something they missed out on. Now as adults, their lifestyle allows them to return to school and get that educational experience that passed them by.

New passions

As mentioned before, sometimes new interests are piqued later in life that people feel compelled to explore. It could be a new career path, but it could also be a new-found passion outside of work. It could be a hobby they want to become better at, or even just an area of interest they want to learn more about. If the passion is strong enough, why not learn as much as you can?

Love of learning

Of course, that’s what it is all about – learning. We all know that — no matter how old you are, how accomplished you might feel in life, how much experience you have gained over the years – nothing can stop that desire to learn. General curiosity and love of exploring new ideas is driving adults back to school. While there are ways to stay curious and keep learning without returning to school, there is a certain draw to being a part of a community of people learning. It’s infectious, exhilarating and ultimately fulfilling.


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