Who says you’re ever too old to learn something new? In fact, research indicates that making the decision to study later in life can not only help reinvigorate your career, but often your life too.
Studies show that people who undertake formal study later in life not only have the obvious benefit of gaining new knowledge, but also receive related benefits that improve their overall wellbeing. If you are considering going back to school as a mature student, here are some of the benefits of doing so that may just convince you it’s the right decision…
Studying later in life…
… boosts your career
Education is obviously the key to making a career transition but, even if you want to remain in your current field, further learning will help hone your skills, making you more of an asset to your employer. Researchers have found that the learning process stimulates the creative side of the brain, improving problem-solving abilities and encouraging innovative thinking – both highly sought-after skills in the modern workplace.
… increases confidence
While many argue that learning is a lifelong process, formally applying your mind to new concepts and ideas will help you break out of your comfort zone and hit the refresh button on your life. Aside from the obvious positive impact that further study can have on your professional career, rediscovering skills and qualities that you had all along, or achieving lifelong personal goals, is also an enormous confidence-booster and will do wonders for your self-esteem.
… improves mental aptitude
Research has found that the brain grows and changes positively until a person’s early 30s, after which it begins to naturally deteriorate. Neuroscientists have discovered that by exercising your mind, you can counteract this effect and improve, and even grow, your brain at any age. What better way to do this than by studying something new? If you want to be mentally fit as you get older, it’s advantageous to start flexing your brain muscles as early as possible.
… lets you change direction
Aside from being a great addition to your CV, further study can also help you change tracks completely, and perhaps follow a long-held passion to do something more meaningful with your life. With more and more people extending their working lives to a much later age, it is now possible to change direction and, with training, do something you truly love. In the longer term, this translates into a boost for society as a whole. Communities can only benefit from an increasingly active, engaged older population that is encouraged and equipped to use its vast fund of experience.
… improves your social life
It’s easy to stick with the same circle of people all the time. However, meeting new people with challenging thoughts and ideas can often provide you with a fresh outlook on life. In addition, online and distance learning means that these new friends can be based anywhere in the world, providing you with different perspectives from different countries and different businesses. It’s not just the study that’s important, it’s the networks that you build and the friendships that you make in the process.
What’s more, because mature students tend to be highly motivated, they have the advantage of a greater success rate over their younger peers. According to most academic staff, mature students generally tend to be more focused, with better problem-solving skills, more independent and better able to articulate original ideas. They start with a fire in their bellies, knowing what they want out of a course, and are better able to deal with the ups and downs that are inevitably part of studying.
If you’d like to enter the helping professions and are considering studying as a mature student, why not take a look at the wide range of psychology, counselling and coaching courses on offer at the South African College of Applied Psychology?