It’s been ten whole years. It hit me the other day rather unpleasantly. I wish I could say it’s been ten years since I graduated high school. Nope. Or ten years since I turned 18. No chance.
It’s been ten years since I finished my undergrad.
Graduations are starting and my old college campus is gearing up for another commencement. I follow my alma mater on Instagram and Twitter so I’m seeing the new students getting accepted for next year and the current students finishing finals. It feels like only a few years ago that I was in those classrooms, taking those tests, and eagerly awaiting the future.
But that was ten years ago.
I really thought I was going to continue my education soon after finishing up with my bachelors. I figured I go get some real world experience and then get the masters fired up. For my wife and I, who were married before my senior year in college, that was three states, seven moves, three children, five jobs, three time zones, and (for me) a “whole lot less hair” ago.
A lot can happen in ten years.
All that said however, even through the times where I made the thought of starting my education out to be a mountain of a task, going back was never insurmountable. I don’t think I ever truly believed that it was too late to start hitting the books again. Certainly life can get hectic and we can feel that there’s never a good time but really, what these days ever has ‘the right time?’ I remember saying that about getting married, about having kids, about looking for a new job, and so many other things. But to completely give up on any idea seems sillier than believing there could never be a right time.
Thankfully I took the step.
With the support of my family, I jumped back in. In my case, a seminary with four walls and a roof wasn’t quite possible due to work and location. But, if you haven’t looked lately, there are SO MANY SCHOOLS that offer fantastic online programs. Sure, we’ve all seen the commercials with really annoying, yet mindboggingly catchy, theme songs for ‘schools’ that seem like they could work. For me, I was always a little leery of their credentials and if they were going to get me laughed out of the job markets. But there are solid, reputable schools out there that have done well at keeping up with the pace of education and successfully made the transition to online courses and degrees in the 21st century.
In my case I found a fantastic program with a wonderful seminary that has connected me with an amazing cohort of adult learners who have made the experience all the better. At this point I’m three years in and next year, at this time, rather than thinking back on ‘ten years since graduating,’ I’ll get to graduate all over again.
Even as I write that, I get goose bumps.
A lot can change in five, ten, or even twenty years but your hopes and plans don’t have to. As our culture has moved more and more to a web-based existence so too has much of what this world has to offer. I would certainly encourage anyone looking to do more or grow their scope of knowledge to give ‘going back’ another chance. If you can get onto a physical campus and into a physical classroom than fantastic! The ability to learn within a community is a must have tool when it comes to success for continued education. But if it’s not possible, don’t give up on the idea of trying an online format. There are programs out there like I am enrolled in for people like me who work, have a family, and a busy life but can still take a couple classes each semester. They strive to meet you where you’re at and can be so positive to work with, it’ll make you wonder why you didn’t start it sooner.
Going back can be an unnerving thought. Even as much as some people lament work, the routine becomes comfortable and the pace becomes familiar. Adding something brand new can certainly be scary but it’s not impossible. The only thing that can keep you from giving school another try is yourself so just keep saying, it’s never too late.
By Zack Magnuson A California kid living in the Mid-West, Zack Magnuson is Senior Pastor of the Bucklin Christian Church in Bucklin, KS and is currently working his way through a Masters of Divinity at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, MN. An avid San Diego sports fan, most of Zack’s time is spent trying to keep up with his wife Jill and their three children. Zack blogs at ZackMagnuson.com and tweets as @ztmagnuson.