“It’s too late for me to go to school. I have too many responsibilities now.”
“One of my biggest regrets is not going to school. Can’t do it now though. I’m too old.”
Do any of these statements sound familiar? The thought of going to post-secondary school as an adult can be an incredibly difficult choice to make: but saying no isn’t necessarily the only answer. Maybe you started university or college but ‘life’ got in the way and you never finished. Or maybe you never got to get started. Just because you’re over the age of twenty doesn’t mean that going after your educational dreams is off the table. Is it harder to be a student at thirty or forty than it was at twenty? No. It does, however, require some thought and careful planning. It’s called adult education and it’s made for you.
There are lots of reasons why people go to school later on in life than maybe they originally planned. Let me tell you a short story. It’s the story of a man who, at the age of thirty-two, left his career of eight years. With only a high school diploma, there wasn’t much he could do. Not only that, but he has a wife, two children under the age of ten and a mortgage. Sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it? Well that man is about to finish his final course in a two-year college program. He should be able to graduate in Spring 2018. Who is that man? My husband.
A Plan Will Save Your Mind
Going back to school, or going to school for the first time, can be a major life change. Would you rush into buying a house or a vehicle? Probably not. You’d likely sit down, look at your finances, look at your goals and then map out how to get there. An education can open many doors for you that might have been closed before. If you want to unlock these doors, you’ll need to have some conversations with those who love and support you. You’ll need to look at your ultimate goal and find out how best to get there: not how to get there the fastest. Here are some things to consider when you’re building your master plan:
- Education isn’t free. How will you pay for it? There are a few options from bank loans to student aid.
- What paths can you take to reach your goal? Full-time, face-to-face isn’t the only option. Have you considered part-time? Online?
- Do you have supports in place to make this journey a success? We’re talking things like child care, a steady place to live and solid ground under your feet.
- Have you defined your goals? There needs to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
- How will you manage your time? There are tips you can read, but you’ll need to make sure you can make this work on your terms.
You’re honestly never too old to learn, but timing is also important.
Adding School to Your Plate
When you’re an adult, you tend to pile up a lot of things on your shoulders. You may be a parent, underemployed, unemployed, caring for a sick parent or struggling with health concerns of your own. Maybe you don’t have a solid place to live or you’re struggling with addiction. These can be roadblocks, but they don’t have to be permanent ones.
If you’re a parent, you’ll be happy to know that many, if not all, of the post-secondary schools in Manitoba offer some form of child care right on campus. They will also save spots specifically for students. Maybe full-time and face-to-face isn’t going to work with your schedule. Part-time or online courses might just save the day. Sure it might take longer, but you’re working towards your dream. Don’t rush.
If you don’t have a solid place to live or you’re struggling with mental health or addiction issues, try looking into what community services are available to you. It’s important to be healthy in body and mind before trying to take on more responsibilities. Being a student, no matter how old or young you are, can be a stress on you. Support is crucial to success. Once you’re a student there are services you can access on campus to help you.
Reach Out and Grab that Success
Don’t let your age bother you. Don’t let the fact that you’re a parent or that maybe you’ve never gone to school before hold you back. My husband had his first day of college on the same day our son had his first day of kindergarten. We discussed and planned for a year before agreeing, together, that his pursuit of post-secondary education is what would benefit our family in the long run. It was a challenge for us because his program required him to be a full-time face-to-face student. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any struggles or any moments where we both wanted to throw our hands up in defeat. He was the oldest student in his class and now he’s almost done. Even I’ve been able to start taking some online courses as I work towards a masters degree.
The point is, you can do it.
Build your solid foundation, seek out your supporters and jump on the track towards your future. Only you can make your dreams a reality.
About “The Navigator”
“The Navigator” is a monthly blog about student life by the Campus Manitoba Virtual Help Desk. Check back monthly to find more tidbits of wisdom with “The Navigator”. You’ll be sure to find all kinds of information that will help you be successful in your educational journey. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news and information!