OPINION: It’s never too late to learn

Cameron Gorman headshot

Cameron Gorman

In getting closer to graduation, a common enough question has been rattling around in my mind: Should I continue my education? When graduating high school, the flow to college is almost an expected one. Of course, I can’t speak for everyone’s educational experiences – but for me and many of my friends, it felt like an expected move. So what do you do when you’re a senior? It’s a bit overwhelming to look out from the precipice of a lifetime in academia and into the “real world.”

What’s off the cliff? Real life, people like to say. Get ready to exit the world of grades and tests, and instead to jump into the cold full work week. So, the decision floats around in the heads of almost and recent grads. Should we take the plunge? Or walk into the warm embrace of graduate school? Is it really now or never? After all, the old horror story with graduate school is that if you don’t go now, you might never go back. You might get caught up in the world around you, your job, your family. These are valid concerns. But let me share with you a story.

The other day, an acceptance packet came in the mail to my house. On the large white envelope blue and gold lettering welcomed the newest Golden Flash. (You!) No, it wasn’t a late, late postal worker delivering my packet. Instead, it was for an older member of my family circle. In his fifties, he has a full-time executive job at a food distribution company — and he’s never finished college.

Why didn’t he finish his higher education the first time around? Well, to be honest, he says it was just … life. His parents weren’t able to help with his tuition at the time. (He’s worked full-time since he was 16.)  He skipped the fall semester after his high school graduation, too, and – he admits – it is harder to “step back” into the educational world the longer you spend outside of it. 

So why now? He wants to finish – partially for his dad, before he passes away. Sure, he’s established in his career, and in his 50s. And college is still there. 

You never have to stop learning, not at any point in your life. Life itself, in fact, is a learning process. And that applies to school, too. It might be right for you right now. But if it’s not, if life isn’t sitting the right way for its school picture, don’t give up hope. You don’t need to be in school to keep improving as a person and learning more about your field. And if you do want to go back, it’s never too late. Life is a process, just like plugging your way through elementary school. Don’t be afraid to keep working on it. 

Or yourself.

Cameron Gorman is a columnist. Contact her at [email protected].