September 30, 2023

10 Reasons Adults Go Back To School And Why It Matters

By Megan Jones

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of “detour” includes phrases like “deviation from a direct course” and “temporarily replacing part of a route.” Sometimes we think of the road between high school and where we are now and find it impossible to see a straight, direct path. Detours make life a little more interesting, whether they include starting a family, touring with a band, joining the military or anything driving you at that moment.

The decision to go to college is not for the faint of heart. It requires discipline, courage and perseverance. College demands the exit of procrastination and encourages self-growth. A professor once told his class, “You all are here. You are willing to keep working when you feel like going to sleep or watching a movie. You are testing your minds and pushing your limits by choosing this path—even on days you may not feel like it.” As more adults are returning to college, here are 10 reasons why this trend is steadily increasing:

  1. More adults are interested in advancing themselves. We spend so much time making room for other people in our lives. Adults are finding that they are able to have it all—the family, the career and the education. They are finding that it is a natural instinct to want to exceed your own expectations and invest in yourself.
  1. More adults are interested in earning more money. Research and history both show that a practical step in that direction includes increasing knowledge in order to obtain higher-paying positions.
  1. More adults are interested in learning something new. Maybe you mastered a career for 20 years and you have always had a keen interest in another field. People are finding that they can change careers at any stage of their lives or add a new component to their already-existing career that they had always wanted to try.
  1. More adults want to learn the job they already have even better. They want to be promoted in the field in which they have invested their lives. This is a popular approach to increase their skills.
  1. People want to live their dreams. The idea of obtaining your dream job seems miles away for some people; however, many adults are returning to school because of dreams they have had their entire lives. Because of this, they are devoting more of their attention to their studies.
  1. More adults want to conquer their fears. Fear drives so many people away from possibilities, but in regard to college, sometimes fear can be the reason people find themselves in a classroom. They want to conquer their apprehension and overcome what they thought they never could. This plays a huge role for enhancing someone’s self-worth and confidence.
  1. People want to develop a new interest. Throughout the history of humanity, people are widely becoming more interested in new and different things. Careers that are possible today did not even exist 15 years ago. Many adults are choosing to access a different facet of their interests because they are now a real possibility.
  1. More people have time for school. Time is the only unforgiving aspect of our detours. It never pauses for us or waits for us to choose. Some adults did not have the time to lend themselves to coursework and reading assignments until other aspects of their lives changed first.
  1. More parents want to set examples for their children. They want to show their kids that obtaining an education is possible for anyone at any time in their lives. The world can be their oyster (or crab claw, or anything else you prefer to crack open to achieve joy) whenever they decide.
  1. The human brain continually wants to learn. Our brains are designed to learn by obtaining information and executing that information to some form of result.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the range of adult learners is increasingly growing, and they are becoming more successful in the process. They also have a much higher graduation rate.

During my time in college, I met a 67-year-old man in my program who occasionally took classes because he loved to read. He said he had a lifelong love affair with learning and never wanted to stop. I also met a fellow volunteer who was returning to education. He was a 91-year-old man whose military career included running trains through Berlin in 1945 during World War II. There is no age limit when it comes to learning and making the choice to return to school. Some of the most incredible experiences and opportunities begin by simply making the decision.