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Why Go Back to College Later in Life?

She graduates from college later in life

When you think of college, you may think of 20-year-olds living and learning together on campus. Although that’s the traditional view of college, there are actually many people who decide to go back to college later in life. Today, it’s not uncommon for 30, 40, and 50-year-olds to attend college and get a degree. With so many people choosing to do so, could it be something you might want too? The main reasons to consider going back to college at a later life stage are:

You Know What You Want

Some people seem to know what they want to do as a career from an early age. They stick with that decision all through high school, into college, and beyond. But just as many people – probably more, in fact – only have a vague idea of what job or college program they might want. Many of these young people pick a program simply because it sounds interesting, and not necessarily because it will help them long-term. They go to college because it is what has always been expected of them.

On the other hand, waiting until you really know what you want to do means being able to choose exactly the right program and school for you. There’s no wasting time earlier by taking a degree subject that you don’t like or that won’t help you get the degree that you really want later.

When you are older when making your decision, you can choose a specific medical school, for example, rather than a general course. If that is your preference, get inspiration here about the next step.

The Cost of College Later in Life

There is no doubt that college can be expensive. It can lead to a big debt, either for the student or their family. The program and school is one thing, but then there are living expenses to consider, such as accommodation and food, not to mention books, laptop, and more.

For some people, these costs mean skipping college altogether or spending every penny they have for the degree. It is important to consider whether it is worth doing this when you are 18 or better to go get a job now and save up so that you aren’t struggling to pay for your education.

But if the cost of college is expensive when you leave high school, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be impossible to pay. Some employers will fund college for their employees, depending on the program. And there are grants and scholarships available too. As an adult learner, you have to be responsible for everything you pay for. And doing it all yourself is something to be extremely proud of.

Go to College Later for Less Failure

When a young person goes to college, they might find that they’re just not cut out for it, or that they really dislike the chosen subject. They have two options at this point:

  1. Keep going and be miserable, or
  2. Drop out of school

Dropping out probably makes more sense. After all, why do something that brings you no joy and adds nothing to your life? But many people consider this option to be a failure. Either way, they will be unhappy with their decision.

If you go back to college later in life instead, make sure you have taken the time to figure out exactly what you want to do. Then there is far less chance you’ll drop out or “be a failure.” Why is that? You’ll choose a subject that you know will be of use and of interest. Not only that but you are spending your own money too, so it is vital that you succeed.

Finally, you may choose to go to school for a specific reason. Maybe you want to prove something to yourself and your family. Or it could be that getting a degree is the path to your dream job. Whatever the reason, there’s a lot more at stake than back at age 18. Thus, you will have more drive to continue the education than before.

You’ll Have Flexibility

As an adult learner, you will have a lot of flexibility. Traditional college means heading to an actual school and learning in classrooms with tutors. For many, this option means living away from home. At the very least, it means a lot of time away from family and friends. Plus, you’d have to take time off your job, if you have one.

One of the best things about learning as an adult is that you can choose your own terms. For example, if evenings work best for you because of your day job then consider learning online or through a correspondence course rather than in-person learning. Then you can pick where and when you study. In many cases you can go at your own pace too. Although it might take longer to get your new qualification, you will do it without sacrificing work or family life.

Easy to Apply

Sometimes there are more qualified students for courses than seats available. If this happens, young people may have to interview to see if they’re the right fit for that college program. As an adult working or raising a family, or both, you are less likely to have to fight for college placement.

Why? Many courses hold places open for older learners so that they can hit targets and because having a mix of people in a class adds to discussions there. Not only that but your life will have given you plenty of experience, which means you can easily prove that you are right for the chosen course. All the more reason to go back to college later in life.

12 thoughts on “Why Go Back to College Later in Life?”

  1. Great article! As a student success coach, I have seen an increase in people who want to go back to school later on in life. Working with these students present a number of new challenges, some of which you mentioned in this post.

    1. Thanks Melissa. A friend of mine just went to school after 10 years away and she’s overcoming obstacles – I’m proud of her. You’re doing good work as a success coach out there ~ keep up the important career!

  2. There are some adult learners who want to pursue a degree as a personal accomplishment and there is nothing wrong with seeking a higher education later in life. Good post, my friend!

  3. Great topic! I knew “you know what you’d want to do later in life” would be on the list. I think one problem to consider is that some industries are ageist. There seems to be an advantage to starting off younger overall. However, I don’t think this should necessarily be a setback! All these points are very valid :)

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