Going back to school for a degree has been on my mind for well over a year now, except I couldn’t figure out a degree in what? I know I’m not an MBA-type, nor am I an English Lit-type, and I’m definitely not a Math or Science-type. I also had to decide whether I would study in a field in which I already have skills, like PR or web marketing, or in a field where I have more passion than skill, like photography.

This Fall, I decided to try my hand at a certificate in Digital Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Rhode Island. The program isn’t the commitment of a full degree program and I could test whether my short attention span could handle sitting in a classroom after a long day at work. Would I want to sit in front of the computer for 3 hours after sitting in front of the computer for 8 hours at work?

Turns out, the answer is a resounding YES!

Find what you love

The key, for me at least, is finding a topic that I loved enough to invest a significant amount of time learning how to master it. Heading to a classroom after a full day of work is tough, and I’ve signed up to do that twice a week for three straight months. If I continue with the program as planned, that will be my schedule for the next year and a half or so. Could I do that kind of long drive + long day if I signed up for an MBA program? No, I don’t think so. Statistics or finance classes wouldn’t get me as excited as digital design or studio photography classes do.

Be a lifelong learner

Are you constantly curious? Do you get lost in a subject when reading about it? Are you always trying new hobbies or exploring new interests? You may be a lifelong learner. Just because you aren’t enrolled in school doesn’t mean you aren’t a learner. I have the traits of a lifelong student but without the tuition bill. I’ve taken workshops in everything from gardening to fitness, photography, first aid, and bird watching. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I could get much more out of my natural curiosity if I focused on one subject rather than many.

It’s never too late

It will always feel like there is never enough time or money. Or that other commitments are way more important. Or that it’s too late to go back to school. Simply put: You are never too old to start something new. What are you waiting for?

In the words of Bikram Choudhury, “”It’s never too late, it’s never too bad, you’re never too old, you’re never too sick to start from scratch once again, to be born once again.”