Why Go To College Later In Life?

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When you think of college, you may think of 18, 19, or 20-year-old students all living and learning together on campus. Although that is the traditional view of college, there are actually many people who decide to go to college at a much later stage in life. Today it is not uncommon for those in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and older to attend college and get a degree. With so many people choosing to do so, could it be something you might want too? Here are some reasons why the decision to go to college later in life is a good one and something to consider.

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 and into college. But just as many people – probably more, in fact –only have a vague idea of what job or college program they might want for themselves. Many of these young people pick a program just 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.

Waiting until you really know what you want to do means that you can choose exactly the right program and school for you. There’s no wasting time earlier by taking a degree subject that you don’t enjoy or that won’t help you get the degree that you really want. When you are older and make your decision then, you can choose a specific medical school, for example, rather than a general college course. If that is your preference, you can view here to get inspiration about the next step.

The Cost of College Later in Life

There is no doubt that college can be costly. 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 and study equipment. For some, it either means skipping college altogether or spending every penny they have to get their degree. It is important to consider whether it is worth doing this when you are 18, or better to go get a job and save up so that you aren’t struggling to pay for your education.

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 fun college for their employees, depending on the program. And there are grants and scholarships available too. When you are 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.

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When You Go to College Later: Less Failure

When a young person attends 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) they can either keep going and be miserable, or (2) they can drop out. Dropping out makes a lot more sense because there is no point in being unhappy or doing 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 to college later in life, after you have taken the time to figure out exactly what you want to do, there is far less chance you’ll drop out. Why? You will choose a subject that you know will be of use and of interest. Not only that but you are spending your own money, so it is imperative that you succeed.

Finally, you will choose to go back to school for a specific reason. Perhaps you want to prove something to yourself and your family, or you want to get a degree so that you can have your dream job. Whatever the reason, there is a lot more at stake than back when you were 18, so you will have more drive to continue the education.

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, you might find that evenings work best for you because your work is done for the day and now can concentrate on school. Other options include learning online or through a correspondence course so you can pick where and when you work. In many cases you can go at your own pace. Although it might take longer to obtain your new qualification, you will do it without having to sacrifice 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 go for an interview to see if they are the right fit or have the necessary skills to go to that particular college for that course. As an adult who has already been working or raising a family (or both), you are less likely to have to fight for college placement.

Firstly, 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 the discussions that take place 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 to college later in life.


  1. 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 🙂

  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 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.

    • 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!

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