People often associate schooling with youth—where you learn the skills you’ll use to maneuver through the rest of your life. But the image of the modern student is changing. People are becoming dissatisfied for one reason or another with their current careers and more of them are looking for avenues to pursue different professions. In 2011, according to The Atlantic, of the 17.6 million undergraduates enrolled in higher education in America, nearly 38% of them were over the age of 25, with 25% of them over the age of 30. And with the widening range of resources available, these individuals are more prepared than ever to take control of their happiness and to steer themselves down a new career pathway.
As an adult, it is frightening. It is intimidating to leave a comfortable career in pursuit of a potential profession with less certainty. But in this fast-paced world of boundless opportunity, it is important to take your happiness into consideration. The late Steve Jobs said, “the only way to be truly satisfied [with your work] is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do”. As long as you are still living, you have to potential to do “great work”. And though the idea of returning to school and starting from scratch may seem daunting, it will all be worth it, and here’s why:
1. You will be able to learn new things. If you are tired and unenthused about your current job, chances are that you have worked yourself off the learning curve and know all that you really need to know for that position. According to National Executive Resources Inc., the average employee masters his or her specific job within the first three years. From that point onward, the rate of industry-focused learning and mastering of skill slows. Ask yourself if you are capable of more and whether or not you are ready for something more stimulating. Your job should be challenging enough to keep you interested. If the answer is yes, going to school and learning something new could be just the solution. Not only will you learn concepts that can be readily applied to your new career, but you will also expand your knowledge on things that, although may seem less relevant, may give you a greater insight into the world. One of best part about getting an education is learning about things you would never expect, learning about things for the sake of learning—an idea lost amongst the hustle and bustle of society today.
2. You could increase your earning power. Not all professional sectors are created equal and some feature greater financial opportunities. So, perhaps your desire to enter a new industry is partially attributed to your dissatisfaction with your current salary. There are so many growing industries that could find you and your skill set so valuable. Sharon Ann Waldrop of Investopedia.com cites computer system design and engineering as one of the top 10 expanding sectors. But she names real estate as the industry with the “strongest earnings growth”. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 11% growth in real estate employment within the next eight years. Invest in an education that not only sparks your interest, but that also facilitates opportunities within many of the growing job sectors. Although it may at first seem costly and time-consuming, going back to school could potentially lead to vastly increased financial prospects.
3. You will broaden your perspective. Most likely, you have been doing the same tasks with the same people for a number of years. Getting an education and stepping into a new field will change that and will provide you with a new perspective on life. As you go back to school, you will be placed back into the role of a student whose preliminary task is to learn. You will be immersed in an environment with teachers and students just like, and maybe unlike, yourself. This will be a new opportunity to surround yourself with a new set of faces with different perspectives and walks of life they can share with you and that you can learn from. Similarly, stepping into a new industry will provide you with just the same—perhaps even more. Different job sectors attract different kinds of people. And, undoubtedly, you are bound to meet a diverse set of people, different than those you had at your previous workplace. By shifting careers, you are changing a large part of your life, particularly the kind of people you surround yourself with. And if you are ready for this kind of life change, getting an additional education could be the perfect next step in your journey.
In this life, it is important that you continue to work toward and strive for what you want. Sometimes this can be difficult. It is challenging to decide to leave your job, a position of security, and to pursue schooling and a career in a different field, a field you think is more interesting or one that you are passionate about. But if have the means, there are so many reasons to take this leap. Not only could you be in line for greater financial opportunities, but this could be a chance for you to learn more about the field you are interested in, yourself, and the people and world around you. It is never too late to work toward what you want. It could be yours only if you give it a chance.