Thinking of going back to school, over 40? Just BOOK it! You might love it!

adult ed pic 9 4 2013

An article this week commented that, regardless of one’s age, September signifies the start of a new year more than January does. Ask any student between the ages of three and twenty-two!

Students much older than children are returning to school – now, more than ever. Are you one of them?

As you put away those beach books, or simply cannot put down that beach book you haven’t finished yet, Labor Day swings past, and you can’t help but pay more attention to the Education stories in the media, not to mention the endless back-to-school promotions. If you aren’t interested in school for reasons other than those concerning your children, that’s perfectly fine, of course.

If you in fact are considering returning to school, good for you! Whether you’re pursuing a degree or just taking a course (or six!) in a subject you’re passionate about or want for your career or personal development, going back to school over 40 is definitelydaring but shouldn’t be daunting!

adult ed pic two 9 4 2013Diving back into education after working for more than 30 years was truly one of the best things I ever did. I went back after a series of unsatisfying career moves, where I had landed what seemed very attractive leadership positions with organizations whose cultural norms and values were very unlike what I had experienced in my twenty years as a managing director with global marketing services firms.

Committed to learn from the MBA coursework everything I could about truly effective leadership, no matter the organization or sector, I ended up also loving the finance courses. Ultimately, I earned my MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business, with a concentration in both Finance and Leadership.

When we were kids, returning to school as an adult was either very unconventional or something that immigrants did to study English. But that has all changed. You think, go back to school – not at my age! But, think again! You’d be in great company if you did! In fact, you’d be one of huge numbers: recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education[1] are revealing that adult students are now the fastest growing demographic in the educational arena, with those numbers increasing steadily. Statistics compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics show a whopping 42 percent increase in college students age 25 and older from 2000-2013. And they project that between 2010 and 2019 there will be a 23 percent increase in the enrollment of college students 25 and over. [2]

A college degree looks more and more a necessity and a good investment. There is a lot of evidence that more education is becoming not a luxury, but a necessity. The stats are convincing:[3] studies are showing that 75% of future jobs will most likely need some type of certification or licensure, and those professions that demand a BS or BA will grow 50% faster than the national average.

More women aged 55 to 79 are deciding not only what they want to do in their second half, but that they want to continue learning in some formal way. A report from The American Council on Education, entitled, Framing New Terrain: Older Adults & Higher Education, shows that with older adults returning to college in record numbers, they are daring to pursue new career ideas, found new businesses, and create their lifelong dreams.

No one’s saying you have to put away the beach books forever, but consider varying your reading material. Just as the advice that we must “never wear white after Labor Day” is outdated, so is the notion that school is out of the question after a “certain” age. If I can learn to love studying corporate finance in my fifties, then almost anyone can pursue any interest at all – and at all price points, at any time of the day or night, online or in person. All you have to do is get beyond your comfort zone a little bit and just go DARE.

 

1) http://www.luminafoundation.org/publications/focus_archive/Focus_Fall_2009.pdf

2) http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2006/adulted/index.asp

3) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/visualnewscom/going-back-to-school-as-a_b_3438434.html

Recharge your brain – learn something new!

Unchain Your Brain! Learning a new language, researching the competition before starting a company or learning to play a musical instrument are all exercises to unchain your brain. To plant or seed something new, challenging and fulfilling while waiting for the next big thing to take seed, it’s a good idea to engage in an activity that is not related solely to a work situation or family demand.

The following are a few reasons why:

Taking up new intellectual activities stimulates different neural regions and develops new pathways within the brain. This helps to re-energize the brain against the dreaded “brain-drain” many women complain about in middle age, and helps you see problems in a different light. As Dr. John Medina writes in Brain Rules, “What you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like – it literally rewires it.”

The more you stimulate the neural regions and pathways, the more adept you become at the new skill or activity you’re learning. It’s that fluid intelligence thing again. One of the other major benefits of taking up new intellectual activities is that it increases your self-confidence that you can, indeed, learn new things.

Which of the 9 types of intelligence are you?

There are nine different kinds of intelligence, (which are you?) but most people neglect to explore, let alone develop, those outside their comfort zone. Conversely, we all know of artists, musicians, business-owners and scientists who did their best work after the age of 40, 50 or even 60. By developing different facets of their intellectual capacity, they surpassed the creativity and productivity of their youth in ways they never would have dared or imagined earlier in their lives.

Those are just a few of the reasons why planting something new – physically, socially or intellectually – can be beneficial both in the short run and over the long haul, even in times of stress.