Going Back to School as an Adult

Are you working at your dream job? If not, you may want to consider returning to school.

It doesn’t matter how old you are. School is a great option for people at any age. You just have to consider if it’s right for your life right now.

Factors to Consider

What’s your current living situation and your current responsibilities?

  • If you are a parent, you’ll need to have a conversation with your spouse to determine how parenting responsibilities will be handled while you are in school.
  • If you are a single parent, you need o talk to family members or others to help. Or you’d have to look at your financial resources to determine if hiring a babysitter or daycare is feasible.

Ages: 18, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60+

A parent may also want to consider looking into online colleges. If you do decide to look into online colleges, do you live in an environment that is conducive to your education?

Living with a lot of other people could possibly cause chaos and distractions.

College enrollment by age

Source: Projections of Education Statistics to 2020 [pdf]


1) More Career Opportunities

One of the main reasons to starting school again is to advance your career opportunities and get a career you enjoy rather than just a job to attempt to pay the bills.

College gives you the ability to be what you’d like to be and enjoy going to work every day.

2) More Money

With a better career obviously comes a better paycheck. There are also advancement opportunities which can lead to even more money in the future.

3) Know More

Higher education will give you an opportunity to learn more about topics that interest you (and topics that don’t interest you quite as much). You will just know more in general.

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4) Learning Can Be Fun

Learning can be truly entertaining. There will be certain projects that you will actually enjoy.

You may have to read a good book or learn about art pieces that you enjoy. You could have a science lesson that is absolutely fascinating.

Open your mind to the possibilities and enjoy yourself.

5) A Sense of Accomplishment

When you get your degree, you’ll have a new sense of accomplishment that you have never had before. You will update your resume to show this accomplishment and maybe even hang the diploma in your home.

You will see the pride in the eyes of your loved ones. You will also see the pride in yourself.


1) Cost

College costs money. It’s a reason many people put off their educational goals. Luckily, there are options available. There are student loans. You can also try to get grants and scholarships.

2) Time

College takes up a lot of time. You will be busy studying and doing homework often. Not to mention the time you might have to spend in class.

3) Previous Responsibilities

Many students also put off college goals due to family or career responsibilities. You’ll have to determine how going to school will affect these obligations.

Are you planning on doing all of them? Is someone else able to help cover these responsibilities? How long do you have before you have to return to your duties?

4) Hard Work

You can’t return to college and do the job half-hardheartedly. You need to put in your full effort. You have to go to class every day, study and get good grades.

5) Discouragement

You may face some difficulty. Your family and friends may not be as supportive as you’d like. Other people may make comments about going back on your age or other discouraging comments.

More importantly, you may even face discouragement from yourself. You need to be able to overcome these negative comments and thoughts and make your goals a reality.

Researching and Planning for School

You can’t just sign up for any program randomly. You need to research programs and schools to see which suit you the best. There are a number of resources to assist you with this.

If you are looking for a traditional college experience, go and talk to an admissions counselor. They can help answer your questions. They can also help you turn in your application and sign up for FAFSA [pdf].

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Most promising careers for adult students: nursing, accounting, business, architecture, psychology, engineering, graphic design, computer science, computer engineering, physical therapy.

If you’re looking to study online, you can use our search tool or a number of other sites to help you find the right program.

1) Degree Types

There are a number of degrees to choose from. For a two-year degree, you can get your Associates degree. You can look into a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science. These degrees are typically four-year degrees. This is the level of education that most employers are looking to see.

To proceed even further with your education, you can get a Masters. This is typically an additional two years after you’ve gotten your Bachelors.

2) Online Learning

Online education offers a great level of freedom. This is especially great for students with careers and families. You may find that an online education doesn’t have the same level of connection with a teacher as traditional classroom experience allows.

Some people also don’t thrive in the independent setting. You may also find that some online schools are not particularly well-respected.

3) Traditional Education

A classroom experience takes up more time. You also have to commute to campus every day when you have classes. However, when you have a question on a subject or an assignment, it’s easier to communicate with your teacher. You can also find friends in the class to study with.

"Education is not a problem. Education is an opportunity." - Lyndon B. Johnson

What To Expect

Expectations vary from school to school and program to program.

1) Study

You should expect to work hard and study hard. College is not particularly easy. Even if some classes come easier to you than others, you’ll find yourself struggling in at least one point of your college education.

2) Resources

Another thing to expect is a number of resources to help you through these difficult times. Many schools have tutoring programs and extra assistance for student who need it. Utilize these resources if you need them.

3) Classmates

You should also get comfortable with being one of the oldest student in class. Everyone goes through life in a different order at different speeds.

You should learn how to be the oldest person in the class without feeling uncomfortable or hard on yourself. Plus, you listen to way better music.

Advice and Tips

1) Talk to a Counselor

Get support. There are counselors available for every student. They can help ensure that you are on the right track to complete your degree. They can also help you when you run into problems throughout your education experience.

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Develop a strong relationship with your counselor. They may even be able to write you a letter of recommendation in the future.

2) Utilize Resources

Too often, students don’t use the resources and tools available. These tools are put into place to help you succeed, but you need to use them.

  1. Talk to financial aid about scholarships.
  2. Use services that help tutor difficult subjects.
  3. Finally, when you’re almost done, use career services to help you find a good job in your field.

3) Always Finish Homework Early

Don’t wait to finish your homework until the last minute. It’s a mistake that many students make, and they end up regretting it.

Finish your homework a good amount of time in advance. Then, go over it in your spare time. When you do this, you can double check your work.

You can also go over your results with your teacher or a tutor. They may not be able to give you the answer, but they can tell you what answers are wrong and go over areas that you may not fully understand.

4) Make Friends in Classes

You are going to need friends to study with, do group projects with, and ask questions when you don’t understand something. Be polite and friendly to the people around you on day one so you can start developing relationships.

5) Go to Class Every Day

This is very important. Many classes also have rules that automatically fail a student if they miss too much time. Go to class absolutely every single day.

Final Word

Going back to college/university is a great decision. You’ll find yourself more proud of yourself than you ever have been. You will also have more opportunities for your career and your bank account.

You might face some struggles, but remember that this is for you and your family to live a better life.