Reasons to go back to school

In our ancestors’ day, when the
average lifespan was 45 years or less, people didn’t change much. They learned
a trade, found a job or bought a farm, and stuck with the same occupation for
the rest of their lives. Today, we have more time and many more options — and
the freedom to reinvent ourselves every once in awhile.

If you’re interested in making a
career or lifestyle change, one proven path is to go back to school. Every
year, millions of people enter classrooms to find their dreams. To provide
inspiration and help you get started, here are 10 good reasons to go back to
school. One of them may be just what you’re looking for.

▪Finish what you started. Maybe you were
you enrolled in college or a training programme when something got in the way
— finances, family commitments, health issues or another life event. It’s
never too late to go back to school and complete your training. If money is an
issue, research financial-aid options through your school or check out educational
grants and federal student loan programmes.

▪Go back to work. Instead of pursuing a
fast-track career, perhaps you chose to focus on family commitments such as raising
children or being a caregiver. If the time is right for you to enter (or
re-enter) the workplace, you may find that a lot has changed. Job training or a
degree can help you polish your skills and give you the confidence to compete
in the workplace.

▪Get a promotion. Do you have your eye on
the next rung of the company ladder? More training or a specialised degree
could help you realise your career ambitions. Check with your manager or human
resources department first — many companies pay for job-related training.

▪Change careers. After 10, 20 or even 30
years on the job, you may find yourself longing to do something different. You
aren’t alone — universities, technical colleges and training programmes are
filled with people who want to realise their dreams of a new career.

▪Learn something new. Would you like to
play a musical instrument? Learn woodworking? Improve your golf game? No matter
what your special interest may be, there’s a class to help you increase your
knowledge and skills. Education doesn’t have to be just about your career.

▪Explore the world. Experienced travellers
will tell you that being able to speak the local language adds a new dimension
to travel. If current events are your passion, study politics, other cultures,
or world religions. Whatever your interests, local community colleges, community
centers, or continuing education programmes are great places to look for
affordable classes that will expand your horizons.

▪Lead by example. Want to motivate your
child to continue his education? Lead the way by taking yourself back to school
— it’s an adventure you both can share. If you are an employer, motivate your
staff by enrolling everyone — including yourself — in a class that will
sharpen their skills and build a sense of teamwork.

▪Fine-tune your brain. Researchers tell
us that older adults who exercise their brains — which includes reading,
writing, learning new information, solving problems, and taking part in lively
discussions — age more gracefully and reduce their risk of age-related memory
loss or dementia.