Q: I am a victim of the times and my ignorance. I am 55 and recently lost my job in the fashion industry, where I have worked for most of my life. I took a part-time job as a sales clerk, but I cannot live on the salary. I am thinking of going back to school for the degree I never got, but I would be 58 when I finished. Am I crazy? I know firsthand that employers discriminate against older people when hiring.
A: Here are the negative and the positive sides of going back to school. Age does make a difference to most hiring managers. All who are honest will admit this outside their companies but, for obvious legal reasons, never to those they interview.
Baby boomers have myriad experiences to draw from for making wise decisions, but this wealth of knowledge sometimes intimidates their younger co-workers. Conversely, older workers may be harder to convince when changing procedures or updating systems, which makes dealing with them more difficult for management.
Age discrimination also exists on the other side. A 50-year-old office worker wrote that she was interviewed by a recent college graduate. In her interview, she told the young woman she couldn’t imagine taking instruction from her, not a statement that will win people’s affections. People of all ages should realize they have something to teach and something to learn, no matter who is offering the information.
Younger generations are generally open to taking on new responsibilities. They see advancement as their main goal and easily recognize new opportunities, which is one reason companies like to hire them.
Going back to college for a degree is a wonderful idea. It would change your routine, offer you additional qualifications and boost your confidence. Also, it possibly would give you that shot of energy to stop you from feeling old. Check accreditation and college ranking and compare academic programs before you make a commitment. Also check for grants and scholarships before you apply for loans. You won’t know what lies ahead if you don’t take the first steps, and the process of getting there is as important as arriving.