Going Back to School at 25

It is never too late to finish what you started. Every year, people around the country enroll in college to complete their degrees.

Some are going back after many years away. Others are seeking new degrees in new fields.

Starting school at 25 can be rewarding and life-affirming. Making the choice to start is the first step in completing your goal.


  • More opportunity for career advancement
  • Respect of your personal and professional peers
  • A sense of accomplishment


  • Can take a long time
  • May be expensive
  • Can be a challenge

The First Step is the Hardest

The most difficult part of the journey is going to be making the decision. Deciding to complete your degree is the first step. From there you will just need to take more steps in increments until you finish.

Choosing the right school will make a difference in how quickly you are able to graduate. If you go back to your original school, they may accept your existing credits. Going to a new school may allow you to save on tuition costs or take advantage of flexible scheduling.

Researching and Planning Your Studies

The first thing to do is to find the right education program.

1) Online or Traditional Classes.

There are some institutions that offer online-only learning, while others offer in-person courses. Others allow you to take classes online and study in the classroom.

Some students prefer online learning, while others thrive in a classroom setting. Consider your learning style and study habits when you are ready to pick a school.

2) Tuition and Costs.

Cost is often a major factor in choosing a college for degree completion. Online only universities are inexpensive and are a popular choice with continuing education students. There are also grants and loans available for students who are returning to college.

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You can find information on tuition and compare rates between colleges. If you want to go back to school, there are many ways to complete your degree without breaking the bank.

What to Expect

Going to college at 25 is different than enrolling as a traditional student. Adult learners often have work and family commitments that traditional students do not.

Adult learners often take fewer classes. They complete their degrees in increments of two to three classes per semester. And they also choose alternative routes to degrees that do not include traditional coursework.

In online courses, you will work through a portal. It is easy to use. You can log in, get class materials and take part in discussions. You may attend live webinars with their professors. These portals will allow you to upload projects and homework assignments as well.

The key is to be active in your forums and show your professor that you are a serious student.

1) Credit for Experience.

If you have worked in your field, you may be able to get credit for your experience. Many universities give credits for work experience. The university will ask you to show skill in the subject.

Most university counselors ask for proof of your work experience. This may include a resume, transcripts of certification courses taken or evidence of projects. If you have written a technical manual, for example they may ask to see copies of it.

Show recommendation letters, websites or anything that will prove that you know the subject.

2) Credit by Examination.

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Taking tests is one way to gain college credit without taking courses. CLEP and DANTES are two of the most popular credit by exam companies on the market. Each college has its own guidelines on how many credits you can earn using testing services. These tests are often inexpensive, making them a huge cost-saver.

3) Independent Study.

If you learn well on your own, you can take an independent study semester. You work with your advisor to select a topic at the beginning of the semester. Then you conduct your own study and complete an assignment at the end.

This method is best for those who don’t need the help of a professor to guide their learning. Most people who take this route have knowledge of the topic of study.

Adult Learners and Their Challenges

They run the gamut of student types. Some people are finishing their degrees as a form of personal accomplishment. Others are students who dropped out to become parents or get married. Military spouses often leave school to travel. Still others are career changers who are looking for new skills that will help them in the workplace.

All these students have their own set of challenges and means of meeting them.

1) Time Management.

Many adult learners have family responsibilities that make going back to school a challenge. These students often choose online learning that is flexible and location independent. They may study in the mornings before the kids are off to school or late at night when everyone is asleep.

They key is to find time management techniques that work.

2) Studying in short bursts.

Take an hour in the morning and in the evening to complete your studies. Find small pieces of time during the day to complete your assignments and study for exams. Even if you can’t devote large blocks of time to study, you can still complete your work.

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Some students study while at work. Other students listen to textbook podcasts while they commute or study on the weekends. There are many ways that you can complete your studies even if you have a full-time job or a family.

3) Be Independent.

Study on your own and create your own schedule. Independent study is a bonus for people who can teach themselves and don’t need extra help. You can study using audiobooks, videos, online tutorials and DVDs. The choice is yours.

4) Making the Most of Your Continuing Education.

It is important to network while you work on your degree. Your college may have a career services department that gives information about jobs.

Attend events related to your studies. Get to know the other students and exchange ideas. This may help you advance in your career and be more connected in your industry.

Take part in discussion groups, talk to the other students and exchange ideas.

Final Word

When it comes to completing your degree as a 25-year-old, there are many options available to you. No matter how you want to study, the path to a college degree is closer than you think.