Some students think that once they graduate from college they will be done with studying and learning, but in all reality a diploma is just a stepping stone towards your future. Your education will continue as you move along through your life. In the workplace this education can include learning new hard skills such as mastering a new computer system or learning government regulations. You have the opportunity to continue learning as long as you are willing and open to it. Smart students and employees take full advantage of the opportunity to learn from every experience they have. Remember, employers are looking for employees who display a commitment to lifelong learning and the ability to adapt to new challenges.
So, what exactly is lifelong learning? One useful definition is that it is a pursuit of knowledge and education that is continuous, voluntary, and is largely self-motivated for either professional or personal reasons. Learning is not confined to the classroom, but takes place in a wide range of places and it does not stop once you graduate. Why is this important?
Well for starters you can earn more during your lifetime if you are committed to lifelong learning. A few decades ago you might have finished college and had all the education you would need for the rest of your career, but you don’t have that luxury in today’s job market. In a previous post, we pointed out how you need to gain work experience while in school in order to be marketable. Similarly, in order to stay marketable, you need to continue gaining educational experience while working. Skills that were cutting edge just a few years ago are likely out of date. If you want to stay competitive in today’s job market and potentially earn more money, you need to embrace lifelong learning. Not only will this make you a more open minded and interesting person, but scientific research reveals that a challenged, stimulated brain may well be the key to a vibrant life as you age. Embracing lifelong learning will also help you adapt to change easier and even help you find meaning in your life as you graduate and move forward into the “real” world. How do you begin you ask? Good question.
Start by fostering a growth mindset, seek out opportunities to involve yourself in activities and environments that allow you to experience the excitement of education. Tap into your creative potential, and engage in a broad range of subjects such as the arts, sciences and history. Take a look at the general education requirement here at UMaine; these requirements are designed to help to foster that diverse knowledge base. General education classes provide you with an opportunity to explore a subject you may not have ordinarily thought of and explore something outside your normal interest area.
The University of Maine has a Division of Lifelong Learning here on campus and its mission is to “promote learning as a continuous and lifelong process and to provide experiences that enhance quality of life, empower individuals and organizations, improve professional practice and foster global understanding throughout Maine and beyond.” Visit the their webpage and take a tour to see what resources might help you in your quest to embrace lifelong learning. It’s is never too early to begin your adventure!