It has been well over a year since I reported my intention on reentering school in the Fall of 2014.  With the first year under my belt, I am happy to report that I survived the Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s Cinema Studies program!

And there’s more to come.

This certificate program, consisting of screenwriting, production and history classes, serves as a jumping-off point to a two-year declarative major.  Graduates of the certificate program can move on to Directing, Editing, Cinematography or Screenwriting in order to earn an associate degree in their chosen field.

A degree in any of these fields is potentially very helpful to the graduate, and not just in the Hollywood La-La Land sense.  There is a resurgence of independent film making in the Twin Cities, and nearly 40 commercial production companies in the metro area.  Larger companies headquartered here, such as Target, 3M and Best Buy, are always in need of in-house video production and commercial work.  A well-trained director, editor or writer could do well in Minnesota, and become a valuable commodity.

The author fulfilling Production Assignment 2.

Are you a working adult thinking of going back to college?

I would encourage you to ask program heads, advisers and even previous graduates in your chosen program to weigh the potential workload before registering, especially if you are already working full-time.

If you have previous education or work experience, you may be able to waive certain prerequisite or general education classes by transferring credits or receiving credit for prior learning.  If you need a leg-up on the general education courses, Adult Basic Education classes (ABE)  can help put you on the right track to furthering your knowledge and skills.

Don’t let the cost of college scare you. Most schools offer financial aid and other options that you might not know about. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement or other ways to help employees pay for school.

Most of my classes were in the evening, which fortunately are offered at MCTC.  My job allowed me to adjust my schedule in order to take 11 credits total this fall.  That’s almost a full-time class schedule!  There might be something wrong with me, but based on my previous experience, I think I can handle it.

Despite my apparent insanity, returning to school has been extremely rewarding so far.  The professors have been top-notch and very generous in their guidance.  They’ve afforded me the opportunity to grow and gain confidence in my camera skills and storytelling.  I’ve created projects that I wouldn’t have thought possible before.  I could apply these skills in my current position by recording “how-to” videos and writing for multiple platforms in the office.  Otherwise, I’m indulging my creative side by doing something I’ve wanted to do.

There’s no reason for me to stop now.  It may take me a little longer to complete my studies than a traditional student, but that’s all right by me.  I say if you have the opportunity to go back to school — whether for your current vocation or otherwise — do it.  I wish you the same fulfillment that I’ve experienced.

You’ve got nothing to lose!


Jared Reise works in the Career Technical Education department at the Minnesota State College and University system office.     

Featured image “Action” by Biblioteca de Arte used under Creative Commons license 2.0

4 thoughts on “Part II of Adult Learner's Back to School Journey

  1. I appreciate your honest post about returning to school as an adult. I am currently in a grad program as a young adult, and my mom is considering returning to school to pursue a career that she is more passionate about. Through my career counseling course, I have noticed that perhaps it is more acceptable in today’s society to pursue further education instead of jumping into whatever career comes first. I know my mom went to a technical college and right away started working in customer service. However, she has never really been happy with her career. I believe your post shares some very helpful and promising advice for adults looking to pursue further education!


  2. Thanks for sharing that Dee. Sorry that you went through all of that. This is an opportunity for me to provide some useful links for older workers or retirees looking to get back into the workforce: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) addresses this here. iSeek addresses this here.


  3. Hello: I just read your article about adult learners and you mentioned you wanted to hear from other out there who were/are/have thought about going back to school. Here is my story. In 2010 I enrolled at UW Stout in a teaching program. I’ve always wanted to teach and I was so excited at the job prospects the school offered. After about two years into the program, the vitalization of education started and I thought about changing my major, but I was already close to finishing and was assured by advisers that the job market was still good. I was a 3.9 GPA and graduated this past December. Due to the impossibility of getting an educational job in my concentration in MN and WI, I have not found a teaching job, I’m in debt, I have been struggling to find a position with my past experience that pays over $14/hr which is less than the part-time job I had while I was gong to school. Every job application requires a college education and some of the positions on job posting sites are bogus. Most are from employment agencies which want you to sign up and you have to give them all your personal information. The temp jobs I have been offered I’m overqualified but I need to pay my bills so it becomes a vicious circle. Being an older adult, (50) you are discriminated as soon as you walk into the office for the interview. I am very healthy, and not overweight, and dress professionally. How do I know I’m being discriminated: some interviewers actually talked slowly to me and kept asking me if I understood what they were saying. I just completed four years of college! Then the interviewer will ask me if I have any experience when they are holding my resume right in front of them which tells me they never even read it before meeting with me. The next step they will tell me all the horrible things about the job and then ask me if I really want to work there. Yes, these are just some of the interview experiences I have had. I even had a job offer after 5 weeks from the first interview; the offering HR Person said:”I need an answer right now so if you don’t want the job, I can offer it to someone else”. I turned it down. I guess I just wasted a lot of money working on an education degree.Moral of the story, make sure you research what you are going to school for and DON”T believe what the college adviser tells you; they are there to get students into the program – not to help you get a job. At this point, I feel I make a huge mistake going into education. Sincerely Dee A Shonkwiler


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