Back to School: The Challenges and Rewards of Adult Education

Ah… school… The hair-pulling, backstabbing, exclusionary cliques, testosterone overdosed juvenile man-boys… Then there was college with its three hour lectures, long and difficult tests, overnighters and cram sessions. Wanna go back? Neither do I. But sometimes, there is just no getting around it.

Adults tend to go back to school for career advancement or change. Other adults return out of a sense of completion. Though the reasons vary from person to person, the challenges are the same for all adults who find themselves in the world of academia. Here are just a few of those challenges:



Learning Gets Tougher As We Get Older

Let’s put this one to bed right now: Old dogs most certainly can learn new tricks. But it’s a lot tougher for them than it is for young pups. One theory is that as we get older, it gets more difficult for us to filter out useless information. The older we get, the older the information that’s rattling around in our head. We can’t just purge it because that old, useless information is a part of what makes us who we are.

Unlearning is a key component to learning. Children have less to unlearn. It is a lot more difficult for adults to let go of information that may be out of date, or just plain wrong. This means that adults have extra learning challenges that must be addressed if continuing education is to be successful.

One of the ways to address this challenge is to spend more time preparing for tests. While you may have been able to prep for a test with a case of Mt. Dew and an hour to cram, as an adult, you might be better off with a more structured test prep regimen like Barron’s Test Prep. There are distinctive ways to prepare for each of the major standardized tests, which are GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, and PSAT.  You need to maximize the online and collaborative tools offered by the school to be successful in an online msn.

Cultural Dissonance

A traditional college campus is full of 18 to 22 year old children. Yes, at a certain point, they all seem like children. That’s how you know that you are going to experience a fair amount of cultural dissonance when you go back to school. You likely have no desire to share a class with your children, and less so with your children’s friends.

The good news is that many classes can be taken in the evenings, weekends, and online off-campus. Campus culture can, itself, be a hindrance to academic pursuits.

There is something to be said for having to work through cultural dissonance. At work, you may find yourself answering to one of your kid’s friends. It seems as we get older, our bosses get younger. Being passed over for promotion may be what sends you back to school in the first place. Learning to foster a sense of teamwork with the younger generation will be an advantage in the long run.

Your Schedule Is Already Full

Young people entering college literally have nothing to do. They fill their time with extra curricular activities to stave off boredom. As an adult, you already have a full agenda. You have a life which consists of a full-time job, a spouse, 1.7 kids, PTA, and a household to manage. Where on earth are you going to slot in another 30 credit hours?

It is not just the class time, but the homework and study time. We have already established that it will take you longer to learn than it once did.

What you need is support from your family to help take some of the daily load off your shoulders. You need to maximize the online and collaborative tools offered by the school. And you need to give yourself more time, if available, to complete the coursework.

There is no denying it: There are a number of challenges to going back to school. The good news is that there are just as many solutions at our disposal. There has never been a better time to go for it.