Over two million adult Americans go to school every year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. People start or return to school for many reasons. The following list is a sampling.
1) To learn more about a hobby or an interest. Do you long to play golf? Have you always wanted to learn write, knit or play the guitar? Then maybe adult education classes are for you. These classes could be offered through a university or college extension program or through a church or community center, or they may be at a place of higher education for credit. Participating in a class or two can teach you something new or how to do something with more skill than you already possess. And if you take a class for credit–say, European History to help with your genealogy project–you might find the basis of an education that leads to a second career.
2) To learn a foreign language for travel or fun. Have you always wanted to go to France or India or China, but are worried about not speaking the language? Enroll in a foreign language class so you have the basics to make your travels easier. Classes are usually categorized as “conversational”, “for travel” or by level (i.e., French I, Spanish I, etc.). Any classes will teach you the basics–such as how to say yes, no, ask for directions, inquire as to where the bathroom is, order food, etc.
3) To set a good precedent for your children. Maybe you didn’t get as much education as you wanted. Maybe you want your child to stay in school and to learn as much as possible. Sometimes the best way to lead a child is by example. If you do your homework every night, so will your child. And you can sit at the table together and use it as bonding time.
4) To get a career. Did you not have time to go to school like you wanted? You had your children at a young age, or the opportunity or finances wasn’t there and now you are thinking of what you’d like to do with your life. The thing you currently get up and go to every day is your job; you wouldn’t call it a career, but now you are ready for one. Going to school, whether a trade school, a community college or a university, can get you on track to create a career from your current occupation.
5) For career advancement. Maybe you are in a job you love but you aren’t sure what the next step is: do you want to become a manager or a specialist? Additional education can make the difference between paralegal and lawyer or between medical receptionist and medical assistant.
6) To find a new career. Were you in a job that was recently phased out? Are you still using DOS while the rest of the world is using Windows? Sometimes it isn’t your choice to go back to school, but the skills you have learned and the life you had been leading now seems passé. New job opportunities are created every year for people willing to be trained or retrained. Programs like the Microsoft certification programs and schools that train people to do new occupations in just a few months have been created specifically for people like you.
7) To change careers. A student named Raeeka arrived to the world of music on a road less traveled. She had been a corporate lawyer for a few years and was very successful, but financial gains did not fulfill her passionate longing–to be an opera singer. So, in her mid thirties, she gave up law and started over, moving to a new city, taking new classes and making new friends. At first she worried about how she would be treated by the other students, many of which who were more than 15 years younger. But her classmates waylaid her concerns. And this past May she graduated and has been demand as a soprano at opera companies around the country.
8) To follow a dream. Like Raeeka, you may have a dream. Maybe your dream isn’t so specific. Maybe your dream is to just go to school and finish your degree. Or maybe you already have a degree and a career, but you’ve always dreamed of an advanced degree. It’s not too late to explore other subjects, to take courses in something you’d really love to delve into more deeply.
9) Work is paying for it–so why not? Will your company pay for classes? Then why not take a few in something that interests you or something that your boss would be interested in having you take. Many corporations will pay for their employees to work on MBAs in the evening or on weekends. If one of your employee benefits is paid education, why not take advantage of this opportunity?
10) To meet other, like minded adults. Would you like to widen your social sphere and better your skills? Take a cooking, wine appreciation or any other kind of class where you can meet new people and practice a new art. Then you can dazzle old friends with new knowledge, and share your excitement with new friends.