10 Reasons to Return to College as an Adult
Returning to college as an adult can be outright terrifying. Technology changes dramatically with each passing decade, but even more so has our culture. The introduction of social media allows for one small mistake to be sent out into the universe within seconds, and before you know it you are swept away into 15 minutes of fame whether you like it or not.
As an adult, the thought of embarrassing yourself seems to overpower even the old insecurities of simply not being able to finish the semester.
For me, I just finished my last semester as an undergrad at the University of South Florida. I will be proudly displaying a cap and gown and receiving a diploma in front of my mother, son and husband… with honors.
Some of you may know, but this college journey has been one that I never thought possible being a single mom, suffering a brain injury, my father dying and many other factors… like a debilitating fear of math. You can read about how I overcame that fear HERE.
As a teenager, I had zero desire for school. I couldn’t wait to get out and explore the world, which I did… TRUST ME. Neither of my parents went to college; it was their dream that I became the first on our side of the family to complete college… but I did not share this fairy tale.
I fought it with every ounce of my being. Half-heartedly, I attended six colleges to satisfy their dream, but as soon as a travel opportunity came around, I dropped out with the quickness.
THERE IS ANOTHER WAY!
I’m not trying to discourage those bright young minds who can do things the traditional way; good for them!
But, I do want to give reassurance and support to the people like me; those who did everything backwards! In fact, I personally believe that I may have done everything right all along.
- Desire: When you return to college as an adult, you return because you WANT to learn. Things are interesting all of a sudden. Learning about biology, history and even anthropology is exciting and not something you dread.
- Direction: You know yourself and the direction you want to go. So many young college students haven’t figured out who they are, or what they want. But an adult returning to college has already decided on a path, and you’re ready to GO FOR IT, full steam ahead!
- Technology: This is one of the main reasons why returning to college as an adult matters. I think about all the kids I graduated high-school with. They went directly to college in the day of “word processors.” They have no idea how to utilize “google drive” or the correct way to cite APA style. This gives me a HUGE edge in the career world. I know excel, microsoft office, linux… any Mac or Pc. Graduating now as opposed to 25 years ago is a major plus on my resume which puts me leaps and bounds above many people my age.
- Homework: As an adult in college you actually DO the work required. In my youth I did everything I could to squeak by, never actually giving my best effort because I had better things to do, like socialize. Now? I do everything I need to do, because I am paying for these classes; giving my time and energy to actually drive there… sit there… pay attention… and get a good grade.
- Role Model: My entire reason for being is my son. How can I expect him to go to college if I did not? I have realized the importance of college by simply going… I’ve also learned that I need to live by example. I can’t preach to him that he will end up in a dead-end job (like I did) if I don’t try and better myself.
- Worldly Experience: I had the chance to travel the world, not just a gap-year, but many, many, years to learn about other cultures while I was young. I have an open mind and tolerance that so many people my age do not; evident from our recent elections. Some wait until retirement to take that resort-style cruise in which they remain in their little American bubble. But, when you’re a younger person exploring central America on a chicken bus… you grow spiritually and emotionally. These experiences stay with you a lifetime and add to your whole being.
- Retention: As an adult, I retain what I’ve learned, because suddenly this knowledge is valuable. I’ve learned life lessons in class that make me sit up and listen… this is why the older person in class joins in discussions so much… because they care. As a younger student the old person in class used to drive me crazy. RIGHT? I know the kids roll their eyes at me when I speak, but maybe if you listen we have something to say.
- Professors Become our Friends: Networking Most of my favorite professors consider me an equal; they even invite me for coffee. We keep in touch on Facebook and I have even been to their houses and met their children. There is no longer this weird fence between us. They are not this scary authority; we are friends. This is one of my favorite things about college, I can keep my circle intelligent, inspired and interesting. Having a tribe like that is crucial to success!
- Intelligence: This is an important lesson I’ve learned which all adults considering returning to college should hear… a college degree does NOT equate to intelligence, it only broadens your prospects and mind. I clearly remember a good friend of mine used to make me feel inadequate or lesser than her because she was a college graduate, and I was not. This stigma only caused insecurity in me, and made it that much harder to return to school. Intelligence has NOTHING TO DO WITH A COLLEGE DEGREE!!! Please hear me… it only takes DOING the work. If you pay attention in class and do the work… college is quite easy. TRUST ME. There is no magic step-up in the difficulty of a University from high-school… in fact I found very few classes challenging at all. The key is to pay attention, take good notes and do the assignments. Honestly, intelligence has nothing to do with a college degree unless it’s Harvard or Princeton, of course.
- Other Benefits: Returning to college as an adult has many, many benefits as you can see above, but there is so much more that I haven’t touched upon. For instance, my Ethnic Diversity class (anthropology) has made me see why “cultural appropriation” is offensive when I absolutely opposed the mere mention of the phrase prior to the class. And… I consider myself loving, open minded, and a cultured person, but I had never put myself in the shoes of minorities in America until that class. Being the dominant culture has many privileges that I was never aware of… this is what college does and I will write more on this topic soon. College also taught me to write better by giving me the confidence and strength to start this blog. College letS me glimpse into the younger generation; they consider me a friend, an equal… that’s a great resource to have in many ways! By surrounding myself with younger people, my mind also stays young and positive.
If you have been considering just taking a class, or even jumping-in wholeheartedly… I urge you to do it! There are so many benefits to returning to college.
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” -B.B. King