August 7, 2023

Going Back to School as an Adult? Here’s What You Need to Know

By B&SC Blog Team

Going Back to School as an Adult? Here’s What You Need to Know

For many people, college is a pathway to increased opportunity. It can open the door to higher income, more diverse career fields, and increased job satisfaction. But not all college students fit the just-out-of-high-school demographic. Sometimes, people graduate high school and jump right into their careers or the demands of family life. If you have been out of school for a while and are considering returning to college, you probably have some questions. This guide will help you understand the perks of attending school and the benefits of doing so as an adult learner.

Why Should You Go Back to School?

Adults have many reasons to consider going back to school. Recent economic uncertainties have caused many adults to consider upgrading their credentials by adding more education for better economic opportunities. Interestingly, during the 2008 Great Recession, the number of college students over the age of 24 increased by 20%. While it is too early to say what impact the economic challenges of the pandemic have had on adult learner enrollment statistics, there will likely be similar changes noted.

Why would an adult already established in a career go back to school or even head to college for the first time? Some common reasons include:

• The desire for an increased salary

• The need for better credentials in a crowded job market

• The desire to complete a degree they had dropped to start a family

• The desire to pursue a new line of work completely

These are just some of the most common reasons. You will need to evaluate your situation and decide if now is the right time for you to return to school.

Perks of Being an Adult Learner

Adult learners have some benefits that younger learners don’t have. First, many adult learners have more income than students fresh out of high school, making it easier for them to pay for college. Second, adult learners are often more committed to their degrees. When you’re going to school for yourself or your family or to advance your career, you may be more committed to your education experiences than a typical student fresh out of high school. Use that commitment to excel in your degree program. Attending college as an adult is about investing in yourself and achieving what you know is possible.

When Is It Too Late to Go Back to School?

If you are an adult learner considering going back to school, you may be wondering if it is too late or if you are too old to learn compared to someone fresh out of high school. Maybe you’re in your late 20s. Perhaps you’re in your 30s or 40s or even older. Is there a point when it is too late? Never!

It is never too late to go back to school. If you have career or education goals for which you need more training, you should consider returning to school.

Challenges for Adult Learners

Why is it so hard to go back to school as an adult? Many high school students have no trouble with the idea of going to college. They have been in school for 12 or more years, and it just seems like a natural progression to go to college. They apply for financial aid, talk to an admissions counselor, and pursue their dreams.

The process seems more daunting for an adult. As an adult, you may have a family and more financial obligations than a younger student. You may have to pay childcare and transportation costs. Some adults find it more challenging to retain the knowledge learned in school because of other demands on their time and attention. Working full time adds another layer of challenge.

These obstacles are worth considering, but if you need to go back to school, know that there are flexible programs that can help you address these issues. Online learning can reduce or eliminate transportation and childcare costs, while financial aid for adult learners is also available. Many colleges are creating plans and programs that cater specifically to the needs of adult learners. You will find that there is more flexibility than ever before to make college affordable and accessible to nontraditional students, so nothing should prevent you from going back to school as an adult if that is what your career path and goals require.

Costs for School

No matter your age, there are considerable expenses for attending college. Whether you are an adult learner or a new student, you are going to face these costs:

• Tuition: This is the cost of college and the instruction of your professors.

• Books: You have to pay for your books, but you can save money by buying used ones.

• Health insurance: Your college may require you to have health insurance.

• Housing costs: If you live on-campus, you may have to pay for room and board.

• Technology: You will need a computer and possibly other tech to pursue a degree, which can add to your costs.

• Student loan interest: If you take out student loans, there will be interest you eventually have to pay.

In addition to these costs, adult learners may have other personal expenses like daycare, transportation, and time off from work.

How to Make School and Adult Life Work

Balancing school and adult responsibilities is challenging but possible. You simply need to have the right plan. Here are some tips to make it happen.

Set Goals

First, ask yourself what your goals are. Ask the important questions of what, why, and how. What do you want to accomplish by going back to school? Why do you want to achieve it? How can you make it happen? Answering these questions will help you settle on a list of goals.

Goals will look different for every adult learner. Only you can determine what yours are, so spend a decent amount of time considering them.

Figure Out Financing

College can cost quite a bit, so you will need to figure out financing. Start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which can show you any government loans or grants you qualify to receive. This isn’t just for young students, and many schools use the FAFSA results to determine in-school financial aid as well. Also, talk to your school about any financial aid programs for adult learners.

As an older learner, you may have additional options to pay for school. A home equity loan, for example, can give you the funds to pay for your schooling costs at lower interest rates than are available with other programs. Some employers offer help paying for an education program that directly benefits their organization, so be sure to investigate that as an option.

Find the Program

Now you need to decide what type of program will work for you. You probably already have an idea of the degree you want to pursue, but you will need to choose between these formats:

Online programs: Online programs can work well for adult learners. They provide flexibility to study at home, on lunch breaks, and anywhere you have internet access.

Hybrid programs: Hybrid programs mix online and in-person courses to give some flexibility while offering in-person instruction benefits. Some adult learners find they occasionally appreciate the chance to meet in person with classmates and instructors while enjoying the flexibility of some online courses.

In-person programs: In-person programs can work for adult learners if they live near their school. In-person classes provide improved networking opportunities and greater accountability, which some adult learners need.

Start Applying

Now you are ready to start applying. Apply to your top choice school first, but make sure to apply to some backup schools as well. Depending on the competitiveness of the school, you may need to apply to several backup schools.

Start Your Journey Today

Filling out the application and going back to college can represent changes both big and small. Your schedule certainly will change as you work on class assignments and study for exams. Your priorities might even change. But the most significant change is that you are taking a step toward improving your life. That may mean fulfilling a long-standing goal to return to school, earning a degree to get that promotion, or developing the skills needed to change career fields completely. Whatever your reason, this is an exciting time in your life, and you should embrace it!

Returning to school as an adult learner can be invigorating, and Bryant & Stratton College can help you attain your goals. With flexible degree programs, including many online degree options, Bryant & Stratton College makes it easy for adult learners to achieve their goals. Reach out today to talk to an admissions representative and start your journey to improved education.

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