Learning is a life-long journey—it doesn’t merely end when an individual graduates or passes the age of traditional schooling. After almost four decades of working in the hospitality industry, Rakesh Sarna and his wife have decided to go back to school and pursue a budding passion: learning and absorbing more about global affairs related to international human rights violations, business risks, etc. to name a few. In his journey, he’s come to understand the importance of life-long learning.
Here, he describes some of the many benefits of continuing education past traditional school years and details how doing so may make you more competitive in your industry, sharpen your desire to learn, and expand your horizons.
What is a Mature Student?
While there is some variation in how the term is used across educational institutions, the title of “mature student” generally refers to an adult (or mature age) individual who has chosen to return to study. As with Rakesh Sarna, these individuals are often leading industry professionals who are highly driven and are seeking to sharpen their skills and stay competitive.
Mature students differ from more traditional students in the sense that they generally already have many years of work experience and industry knowledge. Likewise, the mature student’s reasons for returning will often be correlated with a career change or the desired acquisition of cutting-edge industry insight.
Making a Career Change
Perhaps the biggest incentive and benefit of returning to school as an adult is the unique tools and opportunities it gives those wishing to make a career change. No matter how long you have spent in your field or how old you are, it’s possible to expand your horizons and jump into an entirely new field and position.
As Rakesh Sarna demonstrates with his decision to pursue global affairs after a highly successful career in the hospitality industry, it’s never too late to switch gears and apply your skills in a new area. Best of all, the resources, knowledge, and expertise you’ve gained in your previous roles will inevitably enrich your abilities in your new career, no matter how dissimilar the fields may seem.
Updating Yourself on Industry Changes
Returning to school also serves as an excellent opportunity to become educated on industry changes and how the world has evolved. Sharing a diversity of opinions with like-minded students can be a very enriching experience. While this is especially true of fields that are tech-focused or marketing related, nearly all industries experience drastic shifts in periods as small as five years.
If you’ve been out of school and active in your field for more than a decade, (or in Rakesh Sarna’s case, nearly four), much of the industry knowledge you’ve gained in your initial schooling is inevitably outdated. Returning to school gives educated professionals the priceless ability to catch up with these changes and reconsider their best practices as they move forward in their careers.
Expanding Current Education
Often boasting years of experience in their field, adult learners like Rakesh Sarna commonly have a deep and complex knowledge of the industry in which they have been working. However, returning to school as a mature student opens industry professionals up into expanding their knowledge areas to other fields and gaining expertise in sectors they would otherwise never encounter. In expanding current education in this way, mature students enrich their abilities and optimize their performance in the professional realm.
Fueling Your Drive to Learn
In a sense, learning is addictive. Like a muscle, it must be engaged frequently in order to stay powerful and effective. For mature students who may have finished their initial schooling years ago, returning to school is the perfect opportunity to fuel their drive to learn. In reinvigorating this thirst for knowledge, mature students will likely become more passionate and motivated in their professional lives.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Because of his adamant belief in the value of education, Rakesh Sarna isn’t just going back to school himself—he also wants to make post-secondary education a possibility for others as well. That’s why he’s designed and funded several scholarship programs. These programs are aimed at giving those who are passionate about learning the financial aid they need to receive an education which will serve them well. For more information, visit the Rakesh Sarna Scholarship Program webpage.