Going Back to School at 30

Some people decided to get a job right after high school, instead of going to college. You may fall into that group. Another possibility is that you did choose a higher education, but you are unhappy with your career path.

In any case, you’re here as a 30-year-old wondering if returning to college is the right idea. Plan ahead and learn about the good and bad. Then, you can have an enjoyable university experience.


Choosing education when you’re 30 years old provides you with the chance to enter into your dream career. The advantages do go beyond that. You can gain other benefits as well.

  • You are more likely to have the ability to pay than does a student right out of high school.
  • In the event that you need loans, you better understand important factors such as interest rates.
  • You have a more determined attitude toward the work.
  • You are better at paying attention in class than many of the younger students.
  • Not afraid or nervous to ask questions, whether they are in class or after class.
  • If you work, you may decide to take one or two classes at once, giving you more time to focus on the material.
  • Life skills that you have learned, such as organizing and budgeting, can help you in your classroom.
  • You can get rid of your old academic record and start fresh.
  • Since you are more mature, you can achieve a higher level of success in the classroom.
  • You can use your life experience and decision to return to school as starting points for assignments. Some of these assignments are essays, journals, and other written projects.


While you do not want the disadvantages to prevent you from going to college, you do want to have a clear idea of them. Knowing the possible bad parts helps you to plan better.

  • Your parents are probably not helping you to pay. The bill is then your responsibility.
  • You may feel skeptical of professors who are younger than you are.
  • You may get into debates with professors about subject matter more often than younger students.
  • You may not have much to talk about with the other students in your class because of the age difference.
  • The school may require you to take certain courses again because the material has changed since you first took the class.
  • Student loan providers may not offer you loans or the needed amount because of how much money you make.
  • New forms of technology may confuse you while the younger students in the classroom immediately know how to use them.
  • Your job may interfere with the class schedule.
  • You may need to take off from work for your job.
  • Even online programs may have a residency requirement. That means you have to spend some time away from your family, home, and job.
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Researching and Planning

Before you leap into any college program, you want to have a clear idea of what the program is like.

  1. Narrow your search to schools in the area. While the average college experience often involves living away from home, that is likely impractical and unrealistic at this point in your life.
  2. Make sure the school has your specific program. Recent high school graduates often like to try out different classes.
  3. You probably have a clear and distinct focus, however. Therefore, you want to make sure you can move through the program at a good pace.
  4. Research the internship opportunities, networking events and career success of the school. Also, make sure that your work schedule allows for you to participate in these opportunities.
  5. Find out what a typical class schedule is like. Chances are, you have other responsibilities, such as work, home and children that you need to consider.
  6. Make time in your schedule specifically to focus on homework and studying. Your home might be loud. If so, plan to take time to go to the library or to a local coffee shop.
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What to Expect at School at 30

One of the most difficult parts of going back to school is knowing what to expect.

1) Classmate.

You should know that other students are following the same path as you are. Therefore, you may very well see other students who are your age in the class. That is particularly likely if you have decided to attend a local four-year institution with a high number of commuters.

2) Professors.

You should also expect that some of your professors may be younger than you are. Some older students view this situation negatively. However, recognize that these experts have specialized knowledge and that their age does not have to negatively affect their ability to teach. Some of these instructors may be the best you have during your experience.

3) Assignment.

Expect that you will have to set aside time to work on the assignments, just like everyone else. You should not assume that you’re exempt from assignment deadlines, third-party documentation requirements, and other syllabus requirements just because you are older than the other students. Professors must keep their guidelines equal for everyone.

Other Advice

1) Studying.

Don’t think that you will get through without studying. Just because you have life experience doesn’t mean you know all of the material in the textbook.

Make yourself open to study groups. Other members of your class are likely eager to have you join because they notice that you’re a dedicated and focused student.

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Also, set aside time in your planner to study. You probably have many obligations as an adult student. You need to give yourself the needed time to study.

2) Time Management.

At some point, you are likely to feel stressed from your many responsibilities. Accept that it is okay. You may want to ask professors for assignments in advance. Keep in mind that getting them early is not always possible.

Aim to complete assignments in advance of their due dates. You will finish them. Then, you can cross them off on the syllabus or in your planner.

3) Networking.

Chances are, your school likely has some networking events. Take the time to meet with possible employers. Don’t assume that these events are only for the younger students. You have the ability to make a great impression, especially because you likely have developed interview skills.

4) School Life.

While joining a club with a group of younger students can feel uncomfortable, consider the benefits of going outside your comfort zone.

Even if getting involved with an on-campus activity isn’t for you, take the time to hang out in the campus coffee shop. You can study in the library too. That helps you to feel like you are a member of the school.