by Abby Berman Mazenod
It’s OK. I get it. You don’t even need to explain… School just wasn’t for you. It really wasn’t for me either. After 13 years of being forcibly educated, once I graduated high school I was just over it. I tried to do junior college, and even went to half of my classes that first semester. But when I got honest with myself, my brain was fried and I was done.
Fast-forward 10 years later… I finally earned my Associates degree last fall, I am transferring to a four-year university next fall, and I can honestly say from my experience, that going back to school as an adult freaking rocks! I love being a student, and I think you will too. Here’s why…
- It’s way easier than you remember.
I remember the school of my younger days being really hard. Don’t get me wrong, school is hard work… but if you’re anything like me, by now you’ve gotten yourself through much harder times. Compared to paying rent, buying a car, paying a mortgage, keeping a steady income, paying taxes, dealing with crazy relationships, getting married and just the plain day to day survival that you’ve most likely mastered by now, school is a piece of cake! The organization and simplicity of it has almost become a sanctuary for me. It’s simple. You do the homework, reading, and studying, and you WILL get good grades. I wish I realized it was that easy when I was younger… but then again, I probably wouldn’t have cared much then anyway.
- You’ve already found yourself.
The search is mostly over. In my late twenties I know who I am. I can only imagine that the older I get the more truth that will hold. I know what I love, enjoy, and want to spend my time doing because I’ve had the majority of my twenties to figure it out. I have more self-awareness, and understand how I learn, and how I best present myself. There are still things I’m figuring out, which is a journey that I never want to end, but as for right now, I know my acedemic goals because I know myself, and that’s something that 18-year-old me wouldn’t have been able to figure out.
- You know how to just get crap done.
I spent most of my late teen years and early twenties avoiding things. It literally took good old life experience for me to realize that if something needs to get done, you just need to buckle down and do it. Once you’ve realized how less stressful life can be when you stop avoiding the unavoidable, getting schoolwork done is easy peasy.
- You’re better at time management.
In my early twenties, I usually had two jobs, a band, a boyfriend, a multitude of daily commitments that include spending time with friends and family, going to the gym, keeping my apartment somewhat clean, and that’s not even including doing the fun activities like reading, traveling, cooking, girls nights etc. Basically what I’m trying to say is, becoming an adult trains you to manage your time wisely. Sure I still waste time, but the important thing is that I know the best ways for me not to waste time. I use lists, alarms, an actual calendar, I allow myself down time and allow myself to sleep, and my brain works more efficiently in the time that I have.
- You actually study.
Like I said earlier… you do the homework, reading, and studying, and you WILL get good grades. Going back to school, and making it your choice makes all the difference. You’re not sitting in a classroom full of, let’s face it, children to not get good grades. Studying is still a bummer most of the time, but the cool thing about being an adult is that you’ve finally gotten a grasp on that whole idea that sometimes you just have to do things that you don’t want to do. It also feels really awesome to know that you’ve got your shit together before midterms and finals.
- You have a goal.
If you’re anything like me, you’re not just doing this because you have some free time and you need a new activity. (If you are going back to school because you have free time and need a new activity, then your life rocks and I’m jealous.) If you’re anything like me, you may have realized that it’s time to get a better job; maybe one with benefits, healthcare, sick leave, vacation pay, a salary, and you’ve realized that going back to school to get some kind of a degree or training is a means to that. Once you have some kind of an action plan, life is exciting! Seriously exciting! And it’s much easier to be successful in something that you’re excited about.
- You get to pick your classes.
Okay… there are some classes that you have to take to be able to transfer, but for the most part you have lots of options. I’ve taken Karate, Film, right now I’m taking three English Literature classes (which feels very indulgent-I’ve become a Lit nerd). There’s every reason for you to have fun in your classes when you’re “choosing your own adventure”!
- You have a legitimate excuse to ignore other responsibilities.
When you’re in school, you very quickly learn to make school the number one priority. What’s shocking though, is your family and friends understand and encourage your new priorities. People get a lot less upset when you’re not available if they know that you are trying to dramatically improve your life. You’re allowed to get take-out a little too often, splurging on anything that you can consider educational is encouraged, and your husband/wife/significant other might even do your laundry every once in a while (mine does, but I’m a very lucky girl.)
- Winter/Spring/Summer Break
Seriously. Remember how great Spring break was when you were a kid… It’s still just as great! Okay, bills still need to be paid…I still have to go to work, but somehow those extra few days off that week seem like a real vacation, and if you’re someone blessed enough to not have to work… I can imagine its FREAKING AWESOME! Winter and summer breaks are so deliciously long (two months) that at the end of them I am just itching to get back into the classroom. It’s the perfect yin to my yang.
- New educational technology is awesome.
Okay, not just educational technology, all technology!
Remember when you had to look for actual books, journals and magazines for research papers, and then you had to find your material in those books, journals and magazines, and then you had to photocopy your article and highlight it, and then figure out how to cite it? Remember that?! Yeah… it’s not like that anymore! Now to find 6-8 good sources it takes all of about 30 minutes on websites like “jsor” and “academic one file”. These websites only have academic journals and articles, they summarize the article for you in case it doesn’t apply to your topic, and they even cite the articles for you in the correct format for your bibliography. With these tools writing a research paper is a breeze.
It’s not just writing papers though. With audiobook apps like audible and overdrive, if I don’t have time to read this book for that report, I am listening to it while I’m driving to and from work every day. Almost every novel and short story is available instantly in audiobook format, and pretty inexpensive compared to how expensive books on CD are.
Studying is made easier with apps like StudyBlue. StudyBlue connects you to people in your class so that you can share flashcards. Digital flashcards are so much better than hand written flashcards.
There are mountains of amazing technological advances that make school a million times easier, but the last I’ll mention is my very favorite, especially when I’m feeling extra lazy… the speech-to-text option on your computer. If I’m really tired, and my hands can’t type fast enough, it is so nice to be able to just talk my text into my computer and have it type my research paper for me. It really takes so much stress out of writing a paper.
I’ve given you 10 great reasons why going back to school as an adult can be one of the best experiences of your life. It might be a little bit scary to take the plunge, but once you do it, I guarantee you won’t regret it!