August 13, 2019
This story is based on a real student.
No adult student follows the same path, yet, there are patterns: how adult students choose education, how they parse their options, what matters, and what will keep them engaged enough to finish the next chapter.
Henry lives a double life. By day, he’s a high school math teacher. By night (and on weekends), he’s a computer programmer—at least he’d like to be. When he’s not grading math homework or preparing lesson plans, he does everything from building and fixing computers to coding to building apps. The reason he isn’t a programmer is simple: he didn’t know he loved computers until fairly recently.
“We didn’t have a computer in my house when I was growing up,” said Henry. “Not everyone did back then. If you wanted to use a computer, you had to use the school’s or go to the library. What I did have growing up was math. I was good at, loved it. I’ve always had a good mind for problem solving.”
When Henry went to college, he knew exactly what his major was going to be—math, of course. And he excelled in it, loving the challenges that higher education threw his way. After taking a part-time job at his university’s academic learning center as a math tutor, Henry decided to add teaching to his degree. His interest in computers wasn’t piqued until his second year staying in the dorms, when he was assigned a new roommate, a computer science major. Although Henry did start to enjoy working with computers over the next few years, thanks to his roommate, he also still enjoyed his own major and didn’t ever consider switching.
When he graduated and got his first job as a math teacher, he thought he’d found the job he’d stay at for the rest of his life. But, as technology kept booming around him, becoming a larger, more crucial part of everyday life, Henry found his interests shifting. Now, although he still enjoys teaching, Henry is ready for a career change and plans on going back to school for a degree in information technology.