An investment in knowledge pays the best interest
~ Author unknown
I’m writing this post for those who hope their subtle swaths of grey hair can pass for “highlights”; for those whose first, second, or third (…) career choice did not work out; for those who remember being in college or university the first time around and recall “that old student” (and now you suddenly realize that you’re that student); for those who graduated high school to the same songs as some of your current classmates were being born to; for those whose high school fashion has gone out of fashion and is now back in fashion (side note: even though it’s back in fashion, if you wear it, you will still not be in fashion); for those who may get mistaken to be the teacher (or parent) of your classmates; for those who have long been asleep while their classmates are just getting started on their homework.
For those who are some (or all) of the above and thinking about returning to school, my advice would be: do it. I have learned a lot over the past year, but two lessons stand out. First, process is more important than outcome. I have known this as one of those truths that you throw around, but I don’t think I ever really learned it. Having this second post-secondary experience at a later stage in life has given me perspective that I don’t think I could have had in my first year of university, right out of high school. For someone who has largely been results oriented, learning this lesson now will serve me down the road.
The other great learning experience has been knowing that I took the plunge. I sat on the fence for many years, researching various programs, applying for some, only to decline the offer of acceptance. Then my partner framed my indecision like this: “at the end of your life, what person do you want to be? The person who took a risk and tried, or the person who just went through life wondering?” I recognize that not everyone will be fortunate to be in a situation that allows the financial freedom to go back to school. I can also appreciate that going back to school as an adult usually means leaning on those that lean on you, which can feel selfish at times. Having taken that risk, I now feel that I can say with certainty that what I, and those around me, gained by me taking the plunge is much greater than if I had just stayed on the path I was on. Even if I never become a writer, or a designer, or an illustrator, and even if I go back to what I was doing before this program, taking the risk put me on an accelerated path to knowing myself deeper than I would have, had I kept searching, applying, and sitting on that fence.
So if you’re a would-be mature student reading this, I would encourage you to ask yourself what kind of person you want to be, and how that is going to impact those around you.
And one other thing: a serious perk to being a mature student is that you can pass as faculty and use their bathroom instead of the student one…trust me on this, it is a perk.