Are you toying with the idea of starting a new career? What would get you to take the next step? What would stop you? Encore.org recently published their latest survey on this subject, and the results are in. More 50- to 70-year-old adults are feeling positive about the idea of making a midlife career shift than they were three years ago.
[Let this firefighter’s encore career story inspire yours.]
Education equals confidence
Jim Emerman, the Executive Vice President of Encore.org, wants to know what it would take to move more people from thinking about encore careers to starting them. After reviewing the data, Emerman concludes that people’s fears about age-discrimination, insufficient income, and job or life flexibility all appear to be on the decline, but respondents with less education are more likely to worry about the challenges of starting over.
“Those with only some college expressed more concern than those who had completed college about their confidence in trying something new, the need to learn new technologies, their health, age discrimination, and the state of the economy,” Emermen writes.
Ease back into learning
Going back to school to retrain for a new job can be a scary prospect for many people, especially those of us who haven’t grown up with the technology that today’s students commonly use. But the same computer technology that can be so intimidating to some, can also be used to ease adult students back into the world of education through free online college-level courses.
[Did you know you could earn college credit from previous experience?]
Online courses make it easy to find out where you’re interests and talents lie, and to test out college-level courses if you think a degree will help you realize your dreams—before you invest in college. If you find that college is not for you, there are still many opportunities to take professional development and certificate courses online, as well as to hone your skills at a hobby you enjoy (maybe you can turn it into a passion career!)
Where to find online classes
If you’re interested in university courses, Coursera and edX offer hundreds of free online courses from top-name colleges, both nationally and internationally. Known as MOOCs, or massive open online courses, these free college-level classes are specifically designed for online learning. Complete with highly rated college professors, graded homework assignments, and interactive student chat rooms, MOOCs immerse students in the college experience one class at a time (although they do not typically confer college credit.) Open Yale and MIT Open Courseware, on the other hand, offer free online courses that give students access to college course materials from which they can teach themselves.
[Find adult scholarships for traditional and online degree programs.]
In addition to college MOOCs, many online course publishers offer specialized classes taught by industry experts for professional development and personal enrichment. Search the listings of Kaplan University’s School of Professional and Continuing Education, Udemy, Lynda, VideoLectures, and more like these to find excellent learning opportunities. Some are free, some are low cost, some are scheduled, and others are self paced. A learning portal that aggregates thousands of online courses from many different publishers into one website will simplify the search process.
Online courses allow students the chance to sample a virtual smorgasbord of educational opportunities. When you find something you’re passionate about, or when you feel confident that you’re ready to invest in a degree program, you can take the next step. If the next step is to continuing to learn online, that’s great too—remember, lifelong learning keeps us young!