6 Signs You're Ready to be a College Student
By Brianna Flavin on 06/01/2015
One by one you’ve heard friends and family announce they’re going back to school. Whether they’re seeking specialized certificates, entire degrees or even just a few extra classes to catch an employer’s attention, it’s becoming more and more common for older individuals to become college students.
There comes a crossroad in many people’s lives where you realize you’re ready for something bigger, and you’re starting to think you’ve come to that point. But before making such a big commitment, you want to know if you have what it takes to succeed in school. After all, it’s been a while since you’ve stepped foot in a classroom—and the landscape has changed immensely!
Don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you from pursuing your career dreams. It always helps to gain a little wisdom and inspiration from those who came before you. We connected with a handful of professionals who went back to school mid-career and never looked back. Keep reading to hear how they knew they were ready to become a college student.
6 signs you’re prepared to be a college student
1. You’ve gained some direction
If you gave college a shot once before and decided it wasn’t for you, you’re not alone. That’s the route Jaclyn Ciamillo took when she chose to drop out of her English degree program because she wasn’t convinced that’s what she wanted for her future.
"It was one of the scariest decisions I ever made - and the most fruitful."
Instead she took a management position at a small start-up company and started gaining experience. It was this real-world experience that gave her the clarity she needed to finish what she had started.
“My time away from college gave me better grasp on what I was most passionate about and where I wanted to go in life,” Ciamillo says. She’s grateful for the time she took to reflect on her strengths and motivations before going back to school and earning her degree.
“It was one of the scariest decisions I ever made — and the most fruitful,” she says.
2. You’ve hit a dead end in your career
“I reached a point where I knew I needed the degree if I was going to advance any further,” says Ali Paskun. She acquired years of job experience without having a degree, but realized she was unable to advance any further without one.
This gave Paksun the motivation she needed to go back to school. She investigated her company’s college tuition reimbursement program and discovered that it would make her education affordable. This extra perk made it a no-brainer for her to earn her bachelor’s degree.
3. You could use a salary boost
We know what you’re thinking: Who couldn’t use a bit more cash? Sometimes advancing your education is the key to unlocking a higher salary range. This was the case for Jeremy Gregg after he decided to return to school to earn his executive MBA.
“The decision paid off in spades: my salary tripled and I was able to help start a business that transformed my family’s financial future,” Gregg says. While investing in your education may dip into your bank account upfront, the long-term earning potential can make it all worthwhile.
4. You know you have more potential
John Martinelli was 20 years into his career as an optometrist when he decided to apply for medical school. “It was a feeling of knowing I could do more; a sense of pursuing the best I can be,” he says.
After more than 6 years, Martinelli recently achieved his dream of becoming a physician. He believes nothing matters more than improving oneself to benefit others. “Education and knowledge can never lose,” he adds.
5. You want to pursue a more fulfilling career
After working the same job for 20 years, you might realize it no longer makes you happy. This is how Elaine Kollaja felt about her accounting job before deciding to go back to school and change careers.
"Going back to school not only changed my life immeasurably, it probably saved it!"
“I realized I needed to exercise the ‘other half of my brain’ and pursue a more creative and fulfilling career,” Kollaja says. After taking a few literature classes, she decided to enroll in a liberal arts program and earned a master of liberal arts degree.
“Going back to school not only changed my life immeasurably, it probably saved it,” she says.
6. You finally have time for it
Many people put off education simply because of the time commitment. This is especially true for parents who are working full-time. Once you notice your schedule ease up a bit, it may be time to consider going back to school.
When Susan Bender Phelps’ son hit high school and became more independent, she finally found the time she needed to finish the degree she started more than 40 years prior.
She often preached to others about the importance of higher education, but felt it was time for her to “walk the talk.” She was able to find a program that accommodated her busy life and accepted her transfer credits, allowing her to earn her bachelor’s degree in just 18 months.
What are you waiting for?
If any of these stories struck a chord with you, it may be a sign that you’re ready to become a college student. A new degree or certification may be exactly what you need to lift your career to the new heights.
Acquiring a formal education is more than just a credential to add to your resume. Learn about the other hidden benefits of a college education.