An educational gift for my children

The older gentleman standing in the hall outside the classroom was dressed very nice.  He wore a brown tweed jacket, dark brown trousers, a stripped shirt and a sharp looking tie.  His hair was gray and his glasses made him look very wise. I figured he must be the professor of the class I was about to enter.

When the door opened, 25-30 college students, dressed in an array of youthful outfits, funneled in and sat down ready to start the new semester. I took a seat in the middle near the wall just in case I changed my mind and decided to leave before the class started. I was startled to see the distinguished gentleman, whom I thought was the professor, sitting down in the desk a few rows away from me. When he met my startled gaze he smiled and then we both turned our attention to the front of the room where our teacher stood. It is likely that the students who had seen me enter the classroom thought I was the teacher, too, but when I asked the young boy in front of me where was the best place to purchase my philosophy book, he didn't seem to notice anything different about me. That is because an estimated 6.4 million older students, with more than 70 million older adults are taking some type of job related or personal development class this year.

The older gentleman standing in the hall outside the classroom was dressed very nice.  He wore a brown tweed jacket, dark brown trousers, a stripped shirt and a sharp looking tie.  His hair was gray and his glasses made him look very wise. I figured he must be the professor of the class I was about to enter. When the...

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It is not unusual to see someone in their 40s, 50s, 60s or older walking from class to class pulling a rolling book bag behind them. As a matter of fact, I bought a nice green and blue one with yellow pockets and a water bottle holder after attempting to lug a heavy book bag on the my shoulder for the first few days of class. Like many adults I had dreamed of going back to school one day and completing my education, but I put it off year after year because of different reasons.

The nudge that put me back in the classroom was my daughter's birthday this month.  After listening to her complain about getting older for a few weeks, I very wisely told her that age was simply the number of years she had lived. It didn't have to define who she was or what she could do.

Later when I said something about my desire to enroll in some continuing education classes, she asked why I didn't do it. I told her I didn't know if could do it or not.  “Besides, it will take me at least three years to complete the degree I want,” I told her. “So what's wrong with that,” she asked me.  I pointed out the age I would be when I finished, and you can guess what her reply was. After her very wise response that I was going to be three years older whether I went to school or not, I registered for classes and began a new journey.

Going back to school is a desire many adults have to complete the education that was interrupted when they dropped out to marry and have a family or to update their skills for today's more technology-oriented workplace.  Others have a strong love for learning and going back to school keeps them sharp.

It is easier now and more convenient than ever to continue your education.  There's everything from online courses and interactive TV, to weekend and evening courses at satellite campuses. Community colleges especially, have adapted themselves to the educational needs of older adults.  About 55 percent of adult students today go to community colleges.

If you are wondering where to begin, most colleges have some type of adult student services office.  They can help you choose the courses that will best enhance the skills you already have, point you to new career opportunities, and even help you with searches for scholarships and financial aid. If you can't quit work and go to school full time, there are other ways to do it.  Colleges offer night classes and the internet has opened up new horizons in distance learning.

Getting a degree or certification can make a big difference in pay and opportunities in the job market.  The average earnings for bachelor's degree holders are 50 percent higher than the average earnings of those with a high school diploma.

I was afraid when I first walked on the campus.  I have not been a student for many years. For a moment I felt foolish and thought that I should turn around and go back home where my life was safe and predictable, but then my cell phone rang and my daughter's voice came on the phone. She wanted to thank me for the birthday card I sent her.  I had written a special verse in the card that assured her that she would never be too old to reach for more in life, if that is what she wanted.  At the bottom of the card, I added a note that read, “If you need to reach me, I will be in class.”

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Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

Deana Landers has had many roles in life — Pastor’s Wife , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer and Motivational Speaker ... more