Regardless of your age, the answer to the question, “Am I too old to return to study and change career?” will always be “NO”!
Going back to school is an incredibly empowering step, both for your career – whether this means a change or a boost – and also for your personal development and confidence.
A difficult decision?
There is such pressure, so early on, to gain the right qualifications and make long-term career choices. The career you have at, for example, age 30, 40, 50 or 60, is probably something you hadn’t even heard of aged 17 or 18 – a time you were already taking steps towards your professional future.
As the population becomes healthier and becomes older, retirement ages are increasing. In the UK, for example, the state pension age is currently 65 but will increase to 66. Between 2026 and 2028, it will rise again to 67. In the US you can receive reduced retirement benefits from age 62, but the full retirement age (from 65) is to be increased gradually, and by 2023 it will be 67 for everyone born in 1960 or later. This can mean a 50-year long career for some people.
With this in mind, it seems quite curious to choose one career for your whole working life in your late teens.
The decision to return to study can be a difficult one. As you progress through life there can be competing responsibilities. Considerations, such as family and financial commitments, add a different dimension to the choices you make later in life, as compared to when just starting out. The stakes can feel higher.
You are not alone
A recent US national survey from Champlain College Online provides a sobering statistic, namely that 60% of US adults aged 23-55 without a bachelor’s degree have considered returning to study, but were deterred by costs and student debt.
A desire for change is a question in the minds of many people. According to the University of Phoenix, more than 50% of U.S. employees would like to pursue a new line of work.
Positive reasons to return to study or change career at any age
Throughout the course of your life there are inevitable evolutions that take place both within and around you. And it is only natural you crave something different from your career.
Gone are the traditional days of having one employer or one job for life. Work should fit into your changed circumstances, be they family or health-related, or be something which challenges you in different ways – perhaps going from a sedentary to active occupation, allowing you to work from home or have more travel opportunities, directly or indirectly incorporates a passion or hobby, or be freelance or in-house.
Many people feel dissatisfied in their career and are looking for something different. Undertaking further or new study opens up fresh opportunities.
You will also discover a renewed joy of learning. This should not be underestimated. Studying later in life is an entirely different experience to when you are going through the education system in your teens or early 20’s.
The sense of obligation and having to be there vanishes. You have chosen a subject that genuinely interests and stimulates you, at a convenient time, and usually with an end goal. You will find this perspective, coupled with your maturity, to be refreshing.
Returning to study, whatever the end outcome (i.e. going back to your former career or starting afresh) keeps you competitive. It is vital to keep skills up-to-date, build on existing skills and knowledge.
A motivating factor for a lot of people is one of personal growth and development. This could be creating new challenges for yourself or completing a long-held goal. We spend most of our lives working, and it should not just be about money. You should find your career fulfilling so that when you look back on it you are satisfied with the way you spent such a large proportion of your time.
There are so many options now for making your study fit flexibly with your circumstances, and at any age. Remote learning, such as that offered by OpenClassrooms, facilitates credible opportunities that might otherwise be inaccessible to a lot of people.
Ask yourself the right question
The question you should be asking yourself is not,
“am I too old to return to study or change career?”;
rather you should be asking yourself,
“what do I want from the rest of my working life?”.
Older people studying (in their late 20’s, their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond) used to be the exception, but now it is the norm.