Reasons Why More Adults Should Return To College

Adult Students

College education has always been linked with young adults who are preparing for a particular career path. But adults nowadays are also finding their way back to universities. A 2014 survey shows that around 8.2 million college students are 25 years old and older.

Why should adults go to college? Going back to college as an adult comes with many advantages, which is a good reason you should go back. Aside from launching a second career, you should go back to college to: finish your past major, gain more skills, gain more confidence, and many more.

You will learn why many adults are going back to college in this post. Aside from that, it will also tackle the advantages of going back to college as an adult and tips on balancing your studies.

Reasons Why More Adults Are Returning To College

To Launch A Second Career

Many individuals believe that the term “retirement” is the start of a new career. Consider those who have served in the military for a long time.

They may often retire with a full pension after 25-30 years of employment. They may potentially retire between the ages of 43 and 48 if they joined the military at 18, giving them plenty of time to start a second profession.

According to a Merrill Lynch survey from 2014, 72 percent of retirees over 50 still desire to work. In the study, two key points stand out:

37% of pre-retirees who intend to work in retirement will have made substantial efforts to prepare for their post-retirement career five years before retiring; this increases to 54% of those within two years of retirement.

The majority of pre-retirees do not intend to transition from pre-retirement to retirement jobs immediately. They prioritize going on a vacation, a sabbatical.

They will use this time to unwind, refuel, and retool. More than half of working retirees claim to have taken a break when they first retired. The average length of these career breaks is 2.5 years.

For most people, going on a beach vacation after retirement is not appealing. Instead, they go back to school as a preparation for their second career.

Increased Finances

It’s unusual for a person to put off going to college until they have enough finances to do so. Usually, this is the case for people who do not want to get into substantial loans to pay for school tuition. For this reason, many adults go back to college after years of saving money.

Since the tuition of most colleges is rapidly rising, it’s no surprise that more people are postponing education for anywhere from three to five years.

Many consider this the best option, especially that Americans presently owe $1 trillion in student loan debt and cannot repay it.

Another reason people delay going to college until they are adults because they have no idea what they want to study. Delaying their education allows them to save thousands of dollars on a major that they would later hate.

If you are uncertain of the major you want to study, why not wait for a few years before enrolling in college. This is not to encourage you to go to school but making a significant life decision is never easy at 18.

To Finish What They Started

Many adults return to college to complete what they began. They were compelled to pause their college career for whatever reason, leaving with only a few credits and no degree.

Perhaps they were unhappy with the major they enrolled in or were forced to leave due to a health issue. They were just unable to complete what they had begun.

The joy of completing a college education is incomparable, and it frequently boosts self-esteem and helps people feel more secure in the workplace. It also generally leads to new job opportunities.

Many sportsmen, like Brandon Jacobs, Leon Lett, Ben Roethlisberger, Emmitt Smith, and Troy Polamalu, have returned to college to continue their degrees after retiring from professional sports.

To Breathe New Life Into A Career

After a few years in a particular industry, many adults burn out. For this reason, they desire to start something new, go on a new adventure, and embark on a new route. Or perhaps they wish to establish their own business but lack the essential knowledge.

The concept of discovering your passion is being pushed by Western culture nowadays, contrasting sharply with the 1950s-1980s ethos of “graduate and get a practical degree.”

For this reason, it is not surprising that many Generation X individuals are dissatisfied with their jobs and desire a change now that they’re in their mid-40s.

Making a significant job shift usually requires education. Since it is tough to enter a wholly different sector without education, many individuals return to college later in life.

Early Retirement

Unfortunately, many people are forced to retire sooner than planned, and there are various reasons for this. Some individuals retire early because of health issues, downturns in their firms, the economic slump, family issues, and more.

These events put individuals in a terrible position, forcing them to face a reality they had not anticipated.

A recent study by Voya financial shows that 60% of Americans take an earlier retirement than planned.

According to 29% of the 1,002 recent retirees we interviewed, their retirement date was somewhat surprising. Meanwhile, 31% admitted that the timing was highly unexpected for them.

The 33% of those polled indicated they were forced to leave their careers, while 16% had to retire due to health issues. On the other hand, 11% had to retire because they had lost their employment, and 3% had to leave involuntarily because of their age.

What early retirees do to find another job is to expand their skill set or learn new ones. It might be tough if they’ve spent their whole working careers in one field. For this reason, many older individuals are compelled to attend college to improve their marketability.

More Skills Needed

Since our economy grows more global, more adults realize that their skills are irrelevant to demand. So, they have to acquire new skills to maintain their employment or advance to the corporate ladder.

It is especially in quickly changing areas, like technology, where workers may lose their positions to younger individuals with relevant skills.

For this reason, the pressure to learn new skills usually pushes adults to go back to school to acquire certifications or continue their education credits.


Online education allows older individuals to unlock educational possibilities that they would not have had otherwise.

Ten years ago, obtaining a degree nearly required your presence at the university campus. Today, you can acquire a degree from the convenience of your own home.

When individuals feel dissatisfied with their jobs, going back to college allows them to get many options.

Positive Impact On Your Family

Having a degree is not just a way to improve the quality of your life as it also makes your family’s life better. According to studies, children with parents having a college degree are also likely to get a college degree.

It indicates that graduating from college has financial perks and benefits your family indirectly by influencing them.

Gain More Confidence

Aside from the feeling of accomplishment, going back to college and acquiring a diploma can give you renewed confidence.

Just like the “imposter syndrome,” many individuals feel that they are faking their way through their jobs, making them feel scared that they will be found as a fraud having inadequate knowledge or skills. It might sound crazy, but this feeling is common.

If you also feel the same way, know that the key to confidence is being prepared. Earning your college diploma is among the best ways that will allow you to prepare yourself and gain valuable skills for a competitive workforce.

Advantages To Being An Adult College Student

  • Maturity
  • Career Goals
  • Fewer Distractions
  • More Experience
  • More Financial Aid

Going back to college as an adult learner can be both exciting and intimidating. Many want to go back to school, while some worry if they can handle the life of being a college student.

Students can take online classes with online programs, which is easier to fit in an adult’s busy schedule. Being an adult student in traditional programs also has advantages.


Among the advantages of going back to college as an adult is the maturity, you have gained throughout the years.

Compared to fresh high school graduates, adult college students already know what they want to do, so they avoid spending more time in the university and wasting money shifting from one major to another. They also know how to balance their commitments while studying.

Fewer Distractions

No one can deny that studying in college has many distractions. Aside from finding a quiet spot to study, getting enough sleep and finding time to work on assignments is also challenging as there are many things to do.

College students can participate in clubs and other activities, leaving little to no time to focus on their actual studies. On the other hand, adult students can concentrate better on tasks and live in a traditional setting with fewer distractions.

Career Goals

According to a report from NBC News, around 40% of graduate students are adult learners (25 years old and above.) It shows that earning a college degree immediately after graduating high school is now a thing of the past.

Nowadays, most students take time off college to acquire new experiences and determine what they really want to do. So, when they finally go back to college, they can choose the right major to pursue and be fully aware of how it can help them with their career goals.

More Financial Aid

Adult students who go back to college can enjoy more financial aid opportunities. The FAFSA calculates how much help students will receive based on the income they disclose on their taxes, but there are various scholarships available outside of these institutions.

Some scholarships are solely offered to women or minorities, while others are for people who have taken time out from school in the past.

Also, many universities offer payment arrangements and accept cheques from students’ employers for tuition reimbursement. If you have served the military before going back to college, the GI Bill can be used to pay for your college tuition.

More Experience

Adult students have the edge over regular students because they have greater experience. These students worked for years in many professions, acquiring experience dealing with individuals from all backgrounds and ages.

Aside from that, they provide a distinct viewpoint to their lectures since they understand the application of some of the concepts presented in those courses in real-life situations.

They can also provide new perspectives to younger students through the experiences they share with others.

Adults and anyone who took a break before returning to school are examples of nontraditional college students. Other students lack the perspectives and experiences that adult learners have.

How To Balance College As An Adult

A good balance is essential to succeed for anyone with several commitments outside of school. Balancing school obligations with professional and personal obligations might indeed differ between graduating and failing.

It will, at the absolute least, have an impact on GPA and academic performance. It might be challenging to keep a proper balance, but with the following ideas, it’s absolutely doable.

1. Prioritize Responsibilities

It would help if you resisted the urge to do tasks in a way that feels most natural. Rather, do tasks in the order of their significance.

For instance, it might feel right to put an all-nighter for an upcoming test the next day. However, staying awake all night to finish an assignment that isn’t due for another few weeks is unlikely to help.

As an adult college student, you have to prioritize your outside-campus responsibilities, too, such as family and work. So, make sure to plan how you spend your time ahead according to what is essential.

2. Time Management

The way you use your time determines whether you live in clarity or chaos. Begin by deciding how to get the most done in the time you have.

For example, try to complete a reading task while on public transportation going to school. You can also use your excess time during lunch break at work to run errands and make phone calls rather than waiting until after work.

This way, you can have more time to take care of other things at the end of the day.

  • Know Your Priorities – Learn not to prioritize all tasks by creating a prioritized list. You can delegate a task, make it wait, or erase it from your list. This can help you save time from doing unnecessary tasks.

  • Sleep And Keep A Healthy Lifestyle – With proper rest and sleep, your mind will focus better on things you need to do. You should also keep your body and mind healthy by doing some exercises before studying as it helps to boost focus and productivity.

  • Know Yourself – Some people process information better at night than day. Others are also productive during the day. So, determine the best time that works for you and schedule a priority task at times you are most productive and alert.

  • Be Flexible – As an adult learner, you have to establish a flexible schedule and mindset. It is best if you free some time off your schedule to manage unexpected obstacles.

  • Get Things Done Little By Little – The most common mistake of students is that they procrastinate until big loads of school work block their way. When you get small things done before they pile up, you can have more time on other important things.

  • Celebrate – It is also important to celebrate milestones. Reward yourself for a job well done and be proud of your efforts. This way, you will be inspired by your progress towards your college diploma.

  • Know When It’s Time For Survival – Review and study a lot during midterms and finals. Do not prioritize things that are not essential when preparing for such crucial examinations. It also helps to let your family and friends know that finals are approaching to give you the time and space you need.

  • Compromise – There are times when you don’t have enough time to do the things you need to do. At times like this, efficiency is more important than excellence.

3. Plan Ahead

Meticulous planning helps a lot to gain balance and better time management. Focus on the outcome and determine how to attain it so you can plan better on how much time it needs to be done.

One way is to read the syllabus to plan your schedule. It would help if you also exercised to ask when you don’t know what to do. Below are effective time management techniques for adult college students:

4. Ask For Help

If you want more time to be with your family, you might have to ask for a helping hand. You can request a coworker to cover you at work so you can leave 30 minutes early every week.

Or, ask your spouse to take care of a particular household chore until you finish school. This little help can go a long way, so never be afraid to ask for it.

5. Take Time For Yourself

A college degree might take a long time to complete, so take time instead of rushing. Every week or month, take some time to rest and unwind. It will also help you remind yourself about your goal why you went back to college.

6. Consider Online Coursework

Among the biggest difficulties when finding balance are deadlines that are scheduled at the same time. Taking online classes helps distribute some of your responsibilities at school to days of the week where you have extra time, like weekends or evenings.

Applying Work And Life Experiences Toward Your Education

Adult college students have a significant edge over their younger peers in terms of experience. Aside from having better focus and time management skills, they could lessen the time they have to spend in college by substituting one or more classes through life and work-life experience credit system.

How Can Students Apply Work And Life Experience Towards Their Education?

Each school has its set of rules and policies on what type of experience counts toward college credit. The same is true to what the students require to get the credit. But, most schools offer life and work experience credit in three common ways:

  • Portfolio – The specific criteria might be different from one school to another, but most portfolios include extensive explanations of relevant experience in the form of essays, as well as extra verifiable documentation.

  • Credit For Military Training Or Experience – This type of credit is only possible with the Department of Defence and the American Council on Education’s cooperation.

  • Exams – Through these kinds of examinations, students can show that they have the requisite knowledge level to go without specific college class requirements. Examinations can either be standardized or school-specific like DSST or DANTES Subject Standardized Tests and CLEP or College-Level Examination Program.


To conclude, the constantly increasing number of adult college students indicates several changes that have recently occurred, such as:

  • Increasingly Global Economy
  • Online Education
  • Early Retirement Due To Economic Conditions
  • Less Pressure From Society To Attend College Immediately After High School

If these changes continue, expect to see more adults going back to college in the next few years to come. Each student has different reasons for returning to school, especially that each one has unique goals to achieve and life experiences.

Never turn back on your dreams and pursue them while you can, as it is never too late to go back to college and get that degree diploma you have wanted for so long.

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