Most people have no idea what they want to do when they’re 18 years old. Some go to university to earn a marketable degree. Others enter the workforce, make a little money, and try to figure out who they are. After gaining some work experience or toiling away at an unsatisfying job, they think about going back to school. However, because they have children, work obligations, and other responsibilities, they worry that they can’t handle it.
The great news about going back to school when you’re older is that by now, you’re a much better you. You’re more mature, responsible, and able to manage your priorities; in fact, you’re much, much smarter. Going to university might seem more complicated when you have more grown-up obligations to juggle. Don’t worry — you can handle it. We’ll give you five reasons why.
1. You’re Better at Time Management
When you were 18, everything seemed like a crisis. Comforting your best friend who broke up with her boyfriend seemed just as immediate as getting your homework done. Now that you’re an adult, you know how to set your priorities. You can tend to your friend’s broken heart and still finish your algebra.
As an adult, especially if you work and have children, you’ve become a master at juggling multiple schedules. The growth of online education means that you can fit your classes around your schedule. For example, if you want to complete an online MBA, you can complete your online coursework around your existing schedule. If you need to cut back to part-time work or find assistance with babysitting your children, you can find ways to get everything done.
2. You’re Much, Much Smarter
Neuroscientists have realized that in young people, the brain’s prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed until you’re well into adulthood. In fact, last year in the U.K., child psychologists received a directive that extended their working age-range cap from age 18 to age 25. Additional research suggests that the pre-frontal cortex doesn’t finish developing until you’re in your 30s or 40s.
Your prefrontal cortex controls functions like mood regulation, planning, working memory, and organization. This means that when you return to university as an older student, you take a fully developed brain with you. You’re more likely not only to master your coursework but also to demonstrate the self-discipline needed to complete your degree.
3. You Know How to Say “No”
As you age, you learn how to say “no” without feeling as guilty because you know what you can handle and what you can’t. You’ve learned that saying “no” has the following benefits:
- You earn respect. Saying “no” shows that integrity matters to you and that you feel confident enough to state your preferences.
- You free yourself up for the best opportunities. Saying “no” to something that doesn’t meet your goals means that you’re free to say “yes” to the opportunities that do.
- You show respect for others. When you say “no” because you know that you can’t be fully available to someone, you free them to work with another person who can give them the attention that they deserve.
4. You Learn a Lot From Younger Students
When you’re around younger students, you become keenly aware of the ways in which you’ve let yourself slide. Perhaps you’ve avoided new technology or new ways of doing things. Working with younger people helps you see how you need to update your skills. It also helps you to understand the future workforce, the people who’ll be working for you, in a way that you didn’t before.
5. Your Kids Think You’re a Hero
Many parents, especially mothers, worry that going back to school takes time away from their children. However, statistics show that the majority of today’s online students are women over the age of 25.
Instead of worrying that you won’t give your children enough attention, think of what you’ll be showing them when you return to school. You’ll show them that learning is timeless, that you should never stop bettering yourself, and that you’re never too old to rewrite your destiny.
According to Gallup, older adults who enroll in school end up with incomes that are on par with those of their younger peers. So go back to school already. You have what it takes to succeed.