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8 Jan 2011

When adults go back to school everyone wins

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January 8, 2011 Category: Local Posted by:

Dr. Stephen Jones and

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown


As winter approaches and the calendar year comes close to the end, adults are confronted with their annual resolution to go back to school. After years of sitting on the sidelines it’s time to move forward. They say no more excuses. The whole idea of going back to school is a life altering step. There are thousands of adults who need additional education but fear has them stuck. This is a time to reach a new level and work at obtaining additional education which will have long term benefits.


One of the most critical aspects of the economic revival of Philadelphia is a significant increase in the number of adults who go to college. Too many adults are waiting for the right time to pursue additional education. It is easy for one year to turn into five years of putting off their education. Often fears about the challenges of sitting in a class with students who are 20 years younger are intimidating. The whole idea of completing a GED and then a college degree is overwhelming. It’s important to have a mentor, friend or faculty member who will encourage you. There are thousands of adults who’ve overcome their road blocks and completed their degree.


An active, well educated adult workforce is critical to the success of a large city like Philadelphia. Too many families are living in poverty. Education is the best cure for the growth of vibrant communities and businesses. It is amazing what one adult can do when they have raised their level of education.


The challenge for adult learners is how to start the change process. They need to learn how to set up a system that will not fail. There needs to be a study plan in place that is flexible for all students. As the plan is developed, adult learners need to factor in that there will always be a family member who demands and wants your time. Since you are a college student you can set limits on the distraction by organizing a schedule that gives you freedom to handle family matters. Organization is key.


Adult learners must have determination to reach their goals in spite of any crisis that may arise. Students who are learning how to pursue their degree understand that each instructor has a different method in terms of their instruction techniques. When there is a need to make adjustments they are willing to work hard to meet the instructor’s requirements. Sometimes an instructor may require a demanding schedule of tests, quizzes and presentations. This is another way to test your commitment to completing a degree.


Most adults are not aware that students who complete a college degree will earn a million dollars more in their lifetime. The impact of earning a college degree is something that an adult must be committed to early. Adults who are investing their time sitting in the classroom and pursuing a degree achieve long term positive benefits. Adults often think about the short term consequences of sacrificing their participation in various events to make their degree possible. Some say that they will wait until their child is 5 and now it is 15 years later they still have not begun their degree. Now is the time to change your life. Don’t let another fall go by without starting at least one class.


Some adult learners say it’s difficult to select a major. They have multiple interests that are inspiring them to go back to school. There are career tests that offer a lot of information that help students to focus on their interests. One of the best career tests is the Self-Directed Search. It can be found on the internet at It helps the adult learner who takes the test to come up with a list of potential career choices. Some adult learners start off in general studies and they take several electives to figure out where they will put their energy.


Completing a college degree raises an adult learners’ awareness of personal gifts and talents that they have not yet discovered. Sometimes just by examining the current job market, an adult can see the trend and find a career path that fully engages all of their skills. The sacrifices required while an adult learner in completing a degree are always worth it.



The City, through Mayor Nutter’s Office of Education, has established an office and website to help adult learners, and younger ones too, which can be found at At this site you can develop a plan and determine what your budget can afford. It is a tremendously helpful resource for returning to school.


Each adult is born with thousands of gifts that they will not use because they are not willing to stretch their minds. However, adults who earn a college education are able to create a new workforce skill set for the City’s large and small businesses with many domino effects including an increase in home ownership. By returning to school, you not only advance yourself but your family and community. This helps strengthen Philadelphia’s ability to thrive and spread a beaming light on the future of the region.

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