Pursuing higher education can be a nerve-racking idea, especially if you do it at a later stage in life. However, expanding one’s knowledge knows no age; thus, it isn’t impossible to do. According to statistics, individuals aged 35 years and older make up about 23% of enrolled full-time undergraduate students in private non-profit institutions, 20% for private for-profit schools, and 7% for public colleges.
And while deciding to pursue a higher degree of education requires crucial steps, the result pays off generously. This includes better pay and employment benefits, career change, job opportunities, increased marketability, personal growth, and economic satisfaction. However, going back to school requires brushing up on the preparation know-hows for a smooth and stress-free transition.
Your institution should suit your needs
Returning to school in your 40s may be a different experience than when you were in your prime. Times have changed, and so have the procedure, innovation, and requirements for getting admitted. So, it pays to understand what you require to achieve your goals, including the school of your choosing.
For example, consider using calculators for your chance to be accepted in a college for a faster process, knowing which colleges you can enroll from based on your test scores and other requirements. Then, moving forward, consider institutions that offer quality service for adult learners and for the specialization you want to pursue. This can range from choosing between traditional or online learning and having a flexible schedule that fits your lifestyle.
Make sure that you can finance your education
According to statistics, the average American student owes $38,792 of student-loan debt. So, unless you have the financial capabilities to support your education, you need to consider how you’ll finance your schooling on top of your needs. This is especially true if you have essential factors to consider, including the budget for your family, loans to pay, and recurring bills.
Look for financial resources to help with your cash flow and develop a plan so that you don’t neglect your responsibilities altogether. For example, if you have younger children, consider switching to remote jobs and applying for online learning to help you manage your time. This will also help you save from transportation fees, meal costs, and other expenses. Additionally, check with your employer if they offer educational benefits or other financial aid options to help ease the burden on your tuition fee.
Contrary to popular belief, our cognitive skills do not decline as we grow old. While you may experience changes in learning, you are still capable of mastering any skill and absorbing new information regardless of age. This is because our brain continuously creates new connections that become stronger with practice.
Therefore, understand that while it may take time, getting your rhythm in relearning the learning process is still possible. So, be patient with yourself, respect your pace, and take things one day at a time. Remember that you don’t need to get used to everything immediately.
Instead, adjust accordingly and consider factors that can help you boost your academic performance. For example, if you work full-time, schedule your activities wisely to maximize your productivity on both ends. This could mean working late, studying early, reducing your workload, or dedicating your weekend to get things done and on time.
Develop a support system
Studying in your 40s could be pretty tricky, especially when meeting various demands in life. Therefore, it would be best to communicate your situation well with your family, friends, and colleagues to give you the support you need. Know that it’s okay to make small sacrifices, even if that means developing new ground rules and changing existing routines to help you set healthy boundaries.
This includes canceling social functions to finish your requirements or asking your partner for some alone time so you can concentrate on your upcoming exams. This will save you from conflicts, arguments, and misunderstandings later on, which may only disrupt your concentration and add to your stress. Additionally, it is crucial to set responsible and realistic goals to avoid burnout and emotional exhaustion. Keep your eyes on the price but don’t forget yourself along the process.
Deciding to continue your education and pursue a higher degree requires realigning your goals and preparing yourself for obstacles that may come your way. This means making a few changes and adjustments to meet each life’s demands that require your attention. But while this can be painful, remember to look back and remind yourself why you started and how this can help improve your current situation to achieve life satisfaction.