These Charentais who are returning to school after 35 years

Different motivations

Boredom at work, the desire to advance in the profession, suppressing a youthful dream… If the initial intentions differ depending on the career, the desire to give meaning to one’s actions seems…

Different motivations

Boredom at work, the desire to advance in the profession, suppressing a youthful dream… If the initial intentions differ depending on the career, the desire to give meaning to one’s actions often seems to be a common motive. “I was bored, remembers Joël Brunet, a resident of Voulgézac, who worked as a sales technician for 20 years. Outside of work I was an environmental activist and wanted to work in renewable energy. I continued my studies at the age of 45 and this enabled me to complete my career as a technical director in climate engineering during the last 13 years of my professional life. says the now newly retired.

For Carine Soudanas, a former medical representative of a pharmaceutical laboratory, the search for meaning, but also family balance, is the source of her approach: “I found myself in charge of a sector that made up almost half of France. I’m a mother and I didn’t want to live in a hotel for the whole week”. At the age of 43, she took advantage of the social plan to follow a new training path, which today has led her to become a health officer at the Regional Center for the Coordination of Cancer Screening in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. “I think I have found a better balance in my life”she says.

At Fort Sonia, the starting point recalls a flash from the past: “I think I always wanted to be a teacher, she remembers but maybe i’m misinformed. Then I tutored one of my sons while incarcerated, it clicked,” says this former radiology technician, now on her master’s 2 at school.

Daily turnaround

Once you start with a new plan in your pocket, changing direction sometimes leads to amusing situations: “I entered college the same day my son started high school and his older brother started high school, smiles Sonia Fort. And I have teachers who are my age, but in the end I took it naturally”.

I have teachers who are my age, but I take it naturally.

Adaptation to this new work context is not always without difficulties. Besides the return of the little lump in the stomach from the first days of classes, sometimes there are real psychological obstacles to overcome: “I was especially ashamed, at the age of 35, that I don’t have a permanent job,” says Nadia Maquin, finally convinced, within her training as a funeral director, that she is among other adults.

Even in distance learning, for which 173 Charentais opted in 2022, the pace is often more stable than one might imagine: “At one point I really had my doubts because it required a complicated organization with a significant workload, says Emmanuel Duchiron, who started studying occupational safety at the age of 39, after a 20-year career on construction sites. I spent my free time working in the forest for a year,” continues this father of the family.

Because, like him, some may have become students again, but they are first and foremost parents. “It requires a lot of organization », says Nadège Fritsch. After exhaustion, this former saleswoman went on to study landscaping at the age of 38. “I live in Bassac, and the training in Saintes lasted 9 months. Since I am raising my daughter alone, the schedule between nursery school hours and travel time was very busy.” In the evening, when the child is in bed, he still has to do his homework. “We have to prepare that it will disrupt family life, that’s for sure,” continues Sonia Fort.

Financing, an obstacle to be overcome

This is one of the obstacles to returning to studies: how do you go back to school when you have a family to support? Nadège Fritsch chose work-based learning, this training system that allows you to receive a salary during your studies: “I found a training center 5 minutes from my house, but it didn’t offer work-study training. And obviously I couldn’t do otherwise, so I chose another”. The system of alternating classes and working in the company, widely praised by adults in training, also convinced Emmanuel Duchiron: “It’s a convenient formula even if it often involves taking a pay cut at the time. Luckily my partner got a raise at the same time”.

Sonia Fort, for her part, had to empty her personal coaching account to pursue her ambitions: “Pôle emploi does not finance university education, and the offer I received from the university was 4,500 euros per year! Fortunately, the university’s continuing education department gave me a significant discount.” It is also possible to gain some benefits from a more restrictive situation, such as economic redundancy: “I managed to arrange a return to study as well as accommodation in the city where the training took place for the duration of the training.” says Joel Brunet.

It’s rewarding to feel capable of new things.

If returning to adult studies is a far cry from the Spanish hostel-style image of student life, it sometimes seems to provide a welcome respite in the professional lives of those who have ventured out. “It’s rewarding, from a certain age, to feel capable of new things,” insists Nadia Maquin. “I saw thermodynamics at the age of 19 without understanding anything, Joel Brunet takes over. And there is a young professor who explained everything to me in 3 hours, it was a delight. I can only encourage people to do so. But it’s demanding, we can’t afford to fail the exam.”

Aptitude in law, stepping stone degree

This training offered in Charente at the Valois campus in La Couronne allows you to obtain a diploma equivalent to a baccalaureate to continue your studies in the legal field. Every year about ten Charentais are enrolled in this course. “We have two people this year in bachelor’s studies, that is, who after graduation will be able to continue in a longer sector related to legal careers, explains Patrick Kolb, teacher and head of the legal sector. Other registrants prefer to use the system as a stepping stone for their career.”
Most often chosen by candidates who have always wanted to study law, but never dared, a diploma is actually a ticket to access certain competitions. It also gives others the opportunity to become a “real referent” in their company or even to take on union responsibilities.
“A few years ago, many candidates came to prepare for administrative competitions, that is also a serious background, two years, enlightens Patrick Kolb. Today, the system is more in the form of prosaic approaches, with people aged 35-40 who know what they want. And that has a strong resonance for companies.”

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