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5 reasons you should go back to school

By Michael Crump | 29 May 2014

How great are double negatives? Almost as good as rhetorical questions. Example in a sentence: “combining work and study doesn’t not show future employers how talented you are at multi-skilling.” Okay, so maybe that particular example lacks elegance; is it possible I need to go back to the blogging academy? Re-skill on concise writing and the wickedness of rhetorical questions? Was I wrong when I didn’t not make excuses and embrace the challenge sooner?

For an answer, I need only look to 8 million of my fellow Australians: according to current ABS estimates, that’s the number of Aussies of working age currently undertaking some form of additional training or study. Here are 5 snippets of wisdom they’ll be living in this year…

1. Nothing Happens Until Something Moves

Like Quantum Theory or permission for scientists to have zany hair, ourblogbegins with Einstein. His simple-but-profound bumper sticker has been getting punters out of bed since at least 1905, when young Albert thought it would be groovy to win the Nobel Prize for Physics three times in a single year. These five little words describe the motions of the universe at a sub-atomic level, but you only need to go driving in Sydney peak hour to glimpse the truth:in this dimension, nothing happens until something moves. Is enrolment in a new coursethe ‘happening thing’ leads ‘moves’ you on to ‘something’ great?

2. If You Don’t Change Direction, You May End Up Where You’re Heading

Further traffic advice from the great man. This time Lao Tzu beat Einy to it (by a trifling 2,500 years), but you don’t split straws when it comes to the man who split the atom. Or whose brain was posthumously stolen without his permission (not cool). If you’re analysing your career destination and don’t like the cut of its jib, there are myriad strategies for re-orienting your professional direction. Fighting rhino poachers in Tanzania or joining a weird cult in Southern California are both highly respectable choices, but a diploma in a field of professional interest will be a lot less disruptive to your social life.(You’ll also get to keep your cat.)

3. You Say: “I Don’t Have Enough Time.” Albert Says: “Time is Relative”

If you’re already juggling a full-time job with family responsibilities, the notion of committing additional hours to new study can sound like the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics: so crazy it’s hilarious! However, it may be that you don’t have time not to go back to school: life is short, and goals that get put on the back burner have a way of turning to smoke. If additional training will turn up the power on your career, creating space for new learning will reap rewards that are material and temporal. This is because – and Albert will back me up here – ‘making time’ for something actually makes time. (Algebraically this concept may be expressed as T = m3/ . Geez, all I did was cut and paste that, and still it made my eyes bleed.) Still, if quantum mechanics don’t persuade you, I know a tractor mechanic with a profound understanding of time’s Basic Secret. “It’s only too late if you don’t start now,” Uncle Frank used to say, just before he earned his law degree at the age of 86.

4. If You Think Education Is Expensive, Try Ignorance

This point is a like a good lemon: pithy and hard-hitting. Enough said. Or maybe not – here’s a research study that examined the effect of further training on earnings. (Spoiler alert: wage expectations increase by about 35%.) A return to study is a paying investment in who you are and who you want to be, but if you’re concerned (understandably enough) about digging into your savings to upskill your professional game, you should know that government funding opportunities for everyday Australians have never been so extensive. Even if direct or indirect incentives don’t apply to your circumstances right now, don’t hesitate to start a conversation with your employer: many organisations offer tuition reimbursement to cover a percentage of fees, part of a growing trend that sees companies preferring to invest in the value of employees they’re keen to keep.

5. The Little Voice That Says You’re Not Smart Enough Is The Dumbest Person You Know

An attack of intellectual insecurity is routinely cited as the most common fear of those considering a return to the classroom, but previous academic track records have never counted for so little. Contemporary approaches to vocational study prize application and a willingness to learn above all other factors. This is at least partly because the advent of online delivery has done so much to reshape the training environment. It’s also worth bearing in mind that any work experience you’ve had since last you studied has equipped you for the classroom (both real and virtual) in ways you mightn’t even realise. You hear that bell? It’s Albert Time again: “the only source of knowledge is experience”.

You Can’t Change The Output …

...without changing the input. That’s the old engineering proverb that anticipates Einstein’s famous definition of insanity (“doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result”). Hopefully you’re not on the brink of madness as you browse this article; hopefully you feel persuaded that further study is one ‘change of input’ that’s genuinely viable for you. Challenging yourself by taking on something new isn’t simply the best wayto achieve growth – it’s the only way. All that’s left is to ask a question that definitely isn’t rhetorical: what are you waiting for?

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