Dr. Bill is a retired University Professor who adheres to the philosophy of being a lifelong learner. He can help you be one too! ;-)
You have the choice as to how you further your education
When people hear my story of earning my PhD after 50 years of age, and then having a successful 15 year career as a University Professor before retirement, it leads to all kinds of comments, questions and much more discussion. Some say I should write a book about it. Some say I should write a column. This series of articles will be my response.
I will start it off with some general discussion based on the questions I’ve been asked and the discussions we’ve had. I hope this will lead to more questions, and perhaps we can start a ‘mailbag’ of questions, regularly, in addition to the helpful articles.
These articles will not focus on just one level of education, nor will it only focus on earning a living. Each of us needs to be a ‘lifelong learner.’ Whether to go into genealogy and family history research, becoming a Nurses Aide, or obtaining a degree at any level, there are certain questions that need to be asked and answered for each of us. That is what this series of articles is designed to do. Your participation is critical to making this work.
A good friend of mine here at HubPages, Bill Holland, says on his blog, Artistry With Words, that he writes there: “Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.” Here, I wish to do the same for those of you who want to ‘Further your education as a senior citizen.’ I’ll go with the AARP definition and use 50 years of age as a reference point. That is not very old, these days, so if you are there, or about to get there, come along for the ride - and ask those questions I know you have.
Do you want to further your education?
Where Do I Start?
You start where you are at, and look forward. If you have read this far, you have already given this question a bit of thought, I suspect. You may already be a high school graduate, have a G.E.D., a community college, a college or university degree, and/or some specialized training. If you already know what you need next, that is one thing. How do I take that next step? If you do not know what can/could come next, that is a different question. We will address each of these questions as we move ahead here.
If you know what you need to do, and you are still asking the question, there must be some obstacle (real or perceived) in your way. This is a great place and time to ask me the question that is on your mind, and see how I can help you with your particular situation. There are two ways to do that. For sure, leave a brief comment, below. I want and need comments here, so let’s start with that. Second, send me an email (billsmith2003 at gmail dot com), Subject: Further Education, where you can go into more detail. I may use your question for a future mailbag. In any event, I will respond to every email and every comment posted here. I promise. And, you will be amazed at the responses you will get from other readers to your comments. They can and will be as valuable, often more valuable, than any response I may have.
If you are uncertain what can/could come next, we will address that in most of the articles here in one way or another. However, to get us started, and keep this thing going, I also request that you do the same as I mentioned in the paragraph above this: Leave a comment, and/or, write me an email. Here is one place where each of us is unique. While we each have more in common than we are different, we do each find ourselves in different circumstance at different times. Where you are right now is where our current interest lies. Let me know what that is, so we can get to work heading you in a new (right?) direction.
You may want to earn a degree to further your education - or not
A Bit Of Background And Some Common Solutions
I’ll not bore you here with my whole backstory, there will be plenty of time for that in later articles!! ;-) I will tell you that the success I enjoyed in that first sentence, above, happened on the third serious effort, and not on a first or second try… There are no simple answers. The best advice, the best plan, may come to nought the first time out… or the second…or the third… I do firmly believe that a family (or certain friends) support group is essential to success at this stage of life. Your firm commitment to the plan will likely not succeed without it. A spouse or significant other, at minimum, has to have made the commitment with you, in order to reach success, however that is defined. It does not guarantee success, but success is unlikely without it. Specifically, I had a wife, a daughter, a brother who were able to support my efforts in very specific ways. The daughter and brother had already been through what I was about to go through, so they were able to provide critical advice at each stage along the way. My wife had to take on other family (and family business) responsibilities that I had to ‘give up’ in order to make the sacrifices necessary to make the commitments to reach my goal. Other family and friends were supportive, and that is important, but those one, two, three or more who make the commitment to the plan along with you are critical to your success, in my humble opinion.
You most likely noticed my use of the word ‘plan’ several time in the above paragraph. This is another critical element in my view. A plan has a specific goal and it has measurable and timely steps along the way. We will be discussing planning and goal setting quite a bit as we move ahead here, I’m sure. It is a specific process with specific elements to be planned, executed, and achieved. You may have heard famous football coaches, and players, talk about ‘the process.’ This is one application of that. You have to know what to do, when to do it, how to measure if you did it, and have benchmarks to let you know you are still on plan and moving toward the eventual goal. This takes a lot of subgoals, and a lot of steps to get to each one. You must be committed to not only ‘the plan’ but also to each of the steps and the process along the way as well. I used four sets of five year plans to get from beginning to end of my 20 year process of earning the degree and having the subsequent job get me to a satisfying retirement situation. Your plan will likely not be as complex as mine, each one is distinctive. One day, I’ll talk about the difference between unique and distinctive…
If you have read this far, you likely have a comment or question. Write it down. Think about it at least a minute or two. Then, write it in the comments below. I really want to hear what you are thinking, just based on this brief introduction to this process. If you want to write more than a sentence, paragraph or two, put it in an email. You will get a reply from me personally, in either case. I’m well retired now, I will love to receive your thoughts, and respond back with many years of experience behind that response… and a wide variety of experiences, to boot. That should raise more questions in your mind. Whatever your circumstance, I’ve probably had a related experience, or know someone who has. I’ve worked with adult students numbering in the thousands as well as having work colleagues in all kinds of work environments. Let’s talk. I am waiting for your words…
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William Leverne Smith (author) from Hollister, MO on May 13, 2019:
Thank you, Bill! You do inspire me. Hope to do the same, in my own way. ;-)
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 13, 2019:
Thanks for the mention. I love the spirit of this article,and I am in awe of your accomplishments after 50. Well done!