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Choices and Factors Regarding Adult Education

Updated on October 31, 2013

Going Back to School As An Adult

Today's workplace is in constant state of change. Indeed the adage 'change is the only constant' has never fit well than in today's technological era. The employee of today must upgrade his skill set and acquire new competences for him to remain relevant . Jobs for life and careers of the past are gone.

New technologies create new careers and new job titles. Different sets of body of knowledge are created by necessity and one is required to adapt constantly.

An adult making a decision to go back to school to further his education will require to identify his motives so that he will stay focused to complete his studies in times of competing needs. He should convince himself of his compelling reasons for going back to school.

In this hub I discuss issues around reasons for heading back to school for an adult.

Why Going Back to School

Personal decisions are often made off the cuff. Decisions such as contribution to community, charity and personal development are considered at a personal level and often not subjected to critical evaluation. Even if rational decision process was made, one usually keeps the decision and reasons to himself and often want to surprise family and friends at an appropriate time. Furthering one's education can be one such decision, however in an environment where economic realities rather than esteem necessitate need for further education, a more rational approach is a prudent thing to do.

Further education is usually required for many reasons including, the need to gain more knowledge , the need to acquire a new qualification that will upgrade status and possibly gain a promotion or for acquiring new and relevant skills and competences to remain relevant at work.

Acquiring Knowledge

How can someone tell when he requires to acquire additional knowledge through further education? One fact of life is that we get to know new things almost everyday . We should learn as much as possible from our workplace, from workmates and from formal training offered at work. We learn from observation of work processes and we must research.

However, a person may find himself out of depth and almost out of place in meetings or informal discussions at work. This may lead to issues of anxiety and insecurity. However this may be an indicator of other issues that one must clear before making a decision to further his studies. Was he hired in the right industry and at the right level? Does he need time to settle? Sometimes a supportive work environment and a positive approach is lacking. One must consider discussing with experienced workmates to discover what their early experience were and how they succeded .

Check what kind of environment is your workplace, check for the following signs:

  1. People are so insecure that they are always trying to justify themselves
  2. Everyone is new and they want to establish themselves in the pecking order
  3. Everyone is still talking about his dissertation and final year subjects grades
  4. Some talk highly of their schools and subject choices while being dismissive of others
  5. The performance management system is not clear or not objective
  6. Senior leadership has many young and competitive managers, still fresh from graduate school
  7. Generally the workplace appears to be an audition to display who had a higher quality education

Some of these indicators may show that the workplace is causing unnecessary anxieties and insecurity which may lead to attrition. Mature workers know the importance of a mutually beneficial workplace comprising people of varying backgrounds and abilities.

However, there are cases where it is justified to consider further education to acquire more knowledge such as :

  1. When there is potential for increased responsibility that requires higher knowledge
  2. When there is a career change or a planned career change into a new area
  3. When one has a passion to learn and advance his knowledge without (seeking knowledge can possibly be the nobliest pursuit in life)

If the compelling reason to head back to the desk is need to acquire higher knowledge, then a route that is affordable must be identified.

Acquiring knowledge is distinct in that one can follow a self administered route or take free on line courses. There is a lot of potential today for one to gain knowledge on a new area of study without necessarily going back to school. The downside is that one may not get a formal certificate or a certificate that cannot be recognized.

The following are possible ways and source to acquire further knowledge:

  1. Free on line course e.g. the Massive On-line Open Courses, (MOOCs) platforms such as Coursera , Edx
  2. The Internet is a good source of information, if only one knows what he is looking for
  3. Workplace library or public libraries
  4. Enrolment with local universities, on-line degrees or distance education

One must identify the areas where he requires improvements and focus his studies accordingly. In most cases however, there are always prerequisites .

People who feel inadequate may become too sensitive resulting in poor communication, for this reason and others it is important to address any such concerns.


Do you sometimes feel that your lack of qualifications, and not lack of knowledge is a hold back to better salary and seniority?

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I Need Another Sheepskin

If obtaining a higher qualification is the reason then in one way or another, questions regarding recognition had came up such as:

  1. Is compensation and grading based on educational qualifications?
  2. Do you feel that you know more than what your educational status suggests and you want a formal qualification that is at par with your knowledge
  3. Did you drop out of school to help the family and now you want to finish off where you left
  4. Is there a minimum educational qualification required for professional registration?

If issues of recognition are a concern and there is a realistic chance of enrolling and obtaining the required paper qualification, then one must act positively in that direction.

If one is going back to school with obtaining a specific qualification then one must be selective of institutions he can enrol with. Some employers do not recognize distance learning or on-line degrees, others do not recognize graduate degrees without an undergraduate degree.

Some institutions are highly ranked than others, but this must be weighed against cost and time to completion.

One must make the following considerations when deciding to get additional qualifications:

  1. Are the benefits (i.e. increases salary and others) justified against the course costs
  2. Time off work must be limited as this may lead to additional loss of income
  3. The course targeted must meet the minimum requirements and the institution must be accredited, this should include a check on the acceptability of on-line or distance education
  4. One most critical issue: The odds of completing the course, there is no point in starting if one has no staying power. One must be able to stay the course, literally. we have agreed , this is about the sheepskin.
  5. Even if this is more about the qualification, one must also check how applicable is the knowledge so obtained, this may bring up issues later on.

It is important to remember that one's qualifications are used automatically to determine seniority and salary in more cases than issues that are not easy to measure such as attitude.

Cambridge Centre for Adult Education
Cambridge Centre for Adult Education | Source

Balancing Act

  • Is lack of knowledge evident in the quality of work you do , or
  • The inadequacy appears when you interact with co-workers
  • Do you lack a minimum qualification for promotion to the next level or to be able to register with professional boards
  • Do you have the time and financial support to complete your planned studies

Managing The Back To School Puzzle

We have identified that there are two distinct reason why a person may want to go back to school.

The discussion is not that easily classified, there is always a mixture of both need for higher knowledge and need for paper qualifications. More so, it may not be easy to identify what is to be resolved. Sensing inadequacy and insecurity may not necessarily be an indicator that one must go back to school, often lack of qualifications may be taken as a scapegoat. in some cases, it is poor human skills that a person may be suffering from. This leads people to take expensive actions that do not address the underlying issues. It may not help much for a person to go back to school if the main issue is lack of soft skills.

Importantly, one does not go school to gain qualifications only, this would suggest a diploma manufacturing industry is being supported. Of course a person may use strategies to gain knowledge without necessarily obtaining a paper qualification.

Lack of appropriate qualification can result in a person missing out a lot of opportunities. Some senior vacancies usually state a minimum qualification to be considered. Membership and practicing in most professional areas such as Engineers , Doctors, Public Accountants require minimum qualifications.

Things To Do And Say When You Enrol

  • If the main reason was to get a qualification
  1. Ensure that the right people know that you have enrolled, i.e. HR and your line managers. Some organizations will reimburse for every stage passed and HR may consider promotion upon enrollment
  2. Stay the course, there is no benefit from dropping
  3. Demonstrate leadership, you started it and everyone expects a change
  4. Present and discuss your progress to your managers, ask for increased responsibility
  5. Seek for opportunities, a good proportion of adult students are recruited if they just enrol to certain programs such as MBA or Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) etc.
  6. Lastly, pass and complete, graduate and invite us to the party! and posture for a promotion
  • If the main reason was to gain more knowledge
  1. This is a journey of self discovery, it does not require too much self promotion
  2. Test your new knowledge in controlled situations
  3. Progressively engage in mature discussions - a good check of a knowledgeable person is her ability to ask the right questions and ease with intellectual participation
  4. If you are enrolled at a formal institution, let the right people know when you pass an appropriate stage. Stay the course.
  5. Show leadership, seek out for opportunities internally and externally
  6. Write a paper on a peer reviewed publication and share your knowledge through writing here on the HubPages.

Adult Education Summary

In general we note that one of two issues may be a cause for concern leading one to seek further education.

A worker may want to close a knowledge gap without necessity for paper qualifications. In the other case, one may want to obtain qualifications to justify promotion and gain recognition.

Whatever is the reason, one must assess and take the right course of action. In most cases, this a case of one stone killing two birds.

Although this discussion is about education and going back to school, this is just less than half the story. Ability to interact at personal level, communication and social skills are much more crucial to success than education. In any case education is meant for a person to be fit for society.

This is to everyone:- going back to school, seeking to advance our status, seeking knowledge and understanding must be a daily struggle and life long journey.

Nothing goes to waste when you go back to school at any age.

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    • erinshelby profile image

      erinshelby 3 years ago from United States

      It's important for everyone to keep their skills sharp; it's great that you've reminded adults that going back to school is an option.

    • mgt28 profile image
      Author

      mgt28 3 years ago

      Thanks erinshlby for reading and commenting. Today there are many opportunities for self improvement of them for free.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      I agree that education is a life-long process, Mgt28. This is what all the great motivators and philosophers have told us. Mr. Jim Rohn says, "We must not be lazy in learning."

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