“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, they say. Nonsense! There’s never a bad time to learn and while we typically associate higher learning with people in their late teens and early twenties there’s really never a bad time to learn, grow, gain new skills, retrain or change your career.
Many gentlemen in their thirties and forties get themselves stuck in a comfortable little rut with an income we’ve become dependent upon; and in our hesitation to rock the boat, we can all too often find ourselves convinced that we’re too old to broaden our horizons, knowledge base and skills through education. Whether we’re talking online engineering masters degrees or learning to play a musical instrument, not only is there no bad time to gain you new knowledge and skills, your years of life experience and accruement of common sense give you a sizeable advantage over your younger counterparts.
The mature gentleman’s advantage
The stereotypical depiction of students is that of self-important callow youths and while this is grossly unfair and misrepresentative, your maturity and life experience will make you better disposed to higher learning than you were in your younger years.
As a mature adult (especially if you’ve raised children) your patience, focus and aptitude for dealing with stress, multi-tasking and calmly dealing with the inevitable unexpected mishaps will be far more developed and honed than those of your younger counterparts. You’ll be coming to the table with a clearer idea of your goals. You’ll have a clear idea of what you want, what interests you and what motivates you.While teenagers and young adults tend to be influenced by their parents and guardians in the career or academic decisions they make, your studies will be determined by you alone. What’s more, you’ll likely be a motivated and appreciative example for your younger peers, so you’ll be helping other learn vicariously, too!
If you’re learning for learning’s sake then your very presence will imply a zeal and self-determination that your tutors and peers will appreciate.If you’re retraining to change or further your career, then your combination of academic prowess and life experience will also make you more appealing to employers.
The steps to learning
Firstly, when you’ve made the decision, act on it as soon as you can and don’t allow yourself to be talked out of it (even / especially by yourself).
Choose a specific target. Identify the kind of learning, qualification or job you want.
Identify the skills and knowledge needed. Even if you don’t have a specific career change in mind, you can identify the skills or knowledge that you aspire to. Think about how you can bring your existing skills to bear on your new learning which areas in which you’re lacking will be developed.
Identify the development you need and how to pursue it. Maybe you need a degree, a diploma, or some more esoteric form of qualification. Research the best career route for you, and the best institution to offer it to you. If your work and parental commitments are very restrictive then the Open University is an excellent resource for off-campus learning in your own time.