I Changed Majors In My Late 30s--Here's What I Learned

January 23, 2020
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Photo Credit: Andrew Neel | Unsplash

Returning to college in your late 30s is somewhat of an adventure. At this stage in the game, you've likely had the chance to be in the job market for a while. Maybe you're in a major rut with your career and see few ways out without finishing your degree. It's also possible that you've decided that your heart lies elsewhere in your career path.

No matter what the reason, switching to a different major can benefit you in more ways than one. First, here are some reasons a return to college can benefit you:

1. Finishing Your Degree is Always Desirable 

Having finished your degree is always a major accomplishment, especially if it leads you to a better career. Finishing what you've started will help give you a greater sense of purpose, and refresh some of the skills that you need to succeed in today's job market. Statistics show that degree holders will earn more over the course of their lifetime than they will with a high school diploma alone.

2. Many Jobs Require a Bachelors Degree, in Any Concentration

Many employers require a bachelor's degree in any concentration for serious consideration. Human resources professionals at many companies see college graduates as having better communication, critical thinking, and teamwork skills. Skills acquired from time in college will blend well with job skills.

3. You'll Learn Important Skills, Regardless of Your Career Path

Pursuing a college degree will take you down paths you never may have thought of previously. For example, I never realized that the quest to finish my degree could have lead to me learning some amateur video and presentation skills. These additional skills learned along the way can add look attractive to the right employer.

I decided to study Anthropology, Sociology, and English Literature and Criticism. Here's what made me make this switch.

Anthropology/Sociology - More Than Stones & Bones or Social Theory

1. A Greater Understanding of Society

Sociology provides a greater chance to understand society as a whole, as well as specific social groups. The greater your understanding of society and its groups, the better you can understand the various challenges that come up. This type of knowledge is useful in any job.

2. Well-Rounded Cultural Appreciation

One thing you can always count on with an anthropology major is their ability to appreciate different cultures, even differences that are "weird" to everyone else. Being able to tolerate others' differences goes a long way in an increasingly diverse workforce. You might find that your knowledge of other cultures is in high demand in the right type of position.

3. Knowledge of Research Methods

Anthropology and sociology students know how to do a lot of research, and usually how to do it well. The types of research anthropology majors can handle are the same types that are also in demand in marketing and public policy. With an educational background of this type, you enjoy chances of more job prospects.

English Literature/Criticism - Being a "Lit Geek" Pays Off

1.  Better Writing Skills

English Literature classes are usually very writing-intensive. Some of the writing ranges from discussion board entries about specific readings to more extensive analytical essays. You will be able to keep your writing skills intact and discover where you need improvements.

2. More Effective Research Skills

It is likely that at least some of your assignments will involve evaluating other source materials in addition to the literary works. Analyzing these materials will make it easier for you to find the necessary facts required. Improved research skills can also help you when you are performing research in a job setting.

3. Greater Understanding of Written Works

Reading literary works with a greater understanding will also help you when you're reading other materials. Better reading comprehension can help you with more complex instructions, as well as other communications like emails or support tickets. Once you have done a literary analysis, other analysis of written works will come easily.

If you're not following your dream at your current job or need a change of pace, going back to school will benefit you in the long run.