Professional Development

3 reasons why you should go back to school if you’re over 50

Written by Eric Titner

Regardless of where we are in life, significant markers of the passage of time—like entering a new decade—remind us that time is a precious commodity that shouldn’t be wasted, especially as we get older. At the dawn of a new decade, it can feel as if anything is possible. It’s often a time when we reflect on the choices we’ve made through the years that lay behind us and think about the direction we want our lives to take in the years that lie ahead. This reflection often prompts us to set new goals and challenges for ourselves in an effort to expand our horizons, explore new possibilities, and discover what we’re capable of achieving.

A common goal folks set for themselves is to continue their education. Whether it’s tied to a specific personal or professional goal, or just to learn something new, going back to school is a popular goal at any stage of life—but it can be an especially wise move for people over 50. If you’re in this demographic and are contemplating the idea of getting back into the classroom, or are thinking about making a life change, keep reading and discover a few reasons why this might be the right choice for you.

1. The chance for new professional opportunities

In today’s rapidly shifting and uncertain economy and work environment, long-term stability is more often the stuff of dreams than reality—and it isn’t uncommon for people over 50 to have to face the notion of being back out on the job hunt trail once again, either due to necessity or choice. Although you may be in the enviable position to be able to leverage the professional network and experience you’ve built up over the years, the truth is that age can sometimes be a limiting factor, especially if you’re seeking a position at the upper rungs of the career ladder, where opportunities are scarcer.

A good way to open doors to new professional opportunities is to continue your education—either in your current field or in a completely new one that you’d like to pursue. Having a fresh and current set of learning credentials can really help bolster a resume that’s full of older dates, experiences, and skillsets, and can absolutely help you stand out from the job-hunting crowd. Rather than resting on your laurels and past accomplishments, this can also show potential recruiters, HR personnel, and hiring managers that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead. And, you also stand to learn a thing or two in the process—so it’s a win-win.

2. You’ll stay viable and current

The truth is, the older we get, the more we have to work at staying relevant—and the work world is certainly no exception. The notion that the world moves fast has never been truer than it is today, with the headwinds of change and innovation ushering in at breakneck speeds and making it harder than ever before to keep up. After 50, the struggle to stay up-to-date is real. It can feel like an existential fight just to keep from fading into irrelevancy and obsolescence, especially when you feel younger generations not only catching up but starting to pass you by. Going back to school and learning a new thing or two can help stem the tide and keep you on the cutting edge, which can be a great confidence and morale booster. It can also help you earn the respect and acceptance of the younger generation, which is never a bad feather to have in your cap.

3. Knowledge is its own reward

As we grow older and superficial cares fade, we’re often able to see the things that really matter in life more clearly. It’s been said that wisdom is a lifelong pursuit, and as we accumulate new knowledge our ability to appreciate the world and our place in it continues to grow and mature. Perhaps the best reason of all to go back to school is for the joy of expanding our knowledge and personal horizons in the quest for personal growth and self-improvement. The self-confidence and pride that come along with accumulating new information and skills are valuable gifts on their own—even if they’re not tied to obvious and immediate career success.

Are you over 50 and contemplating a return to the classroom? If so, then consider using the reasons presented here to help propel you in the right direction. Good luck and happy studying!

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.