Am I too old to return to college?

Am I too old to return to college?

Am I Too Old To Return To College?

When the U. S. economy took a downturn a few years ago, many adults found themselves downsized and trying to find new jobs. Many struggled to find one that they were qualified for, and rather than take anything they could find, decided that returning to college was a good way to deal with the unemployment issue.

Numerous adults found that a return to college offered them a way to advance their current job skills, yet countless others decided to start fresh and train for a whole new career. It is common for adults to have new and varied interests after their typical college age years are over, and this opportunity to join an entirely new career field jumpstarted their enthusiasm for work and life again.

Yet even with so many adults returning to college, many wonder if they aren’t perhaps too old to go back to school. Even though they have the desire and see a return to college as a way to follow a dream they have, they worry that they will not be able to keep up with the pace, along with their other responsibilities.

business people going back to school

Or they are anxious about not fitting into the program, since they will surely have nothing in common with the typical college students with whom they will be attending class.If you have been considering a return to college but are apprehensive, contemplating the follow list can help determine whether going back to school is a good idea for you.

Driving Desire

There is no doubt about it: college is stressful, so if you are lukewarm about attending, you may want to do some more research before deciding. It may be that you just haven’t found the degree program or field of study that makes your heart sing.

Do some more research to look for degrees that can lead to jobs that you would love to have, not ones that are highly trendy or marketable. Following your heart is often a sounder way to make a life-changing decision than making the logical choice.Or it may be that you honestly do not relish the idea of attending college, but you feel you must. If this is the case, consider how you might change fields with little or no schooling.

motivated student

Or consider a degree that is very similar to the one you think you would like, but does not take as much schooling to earn. For example, you may have always wanted to be a veterinarian, but the thought of attending years of college to earn that degree keeps you where you currently are, wishing for a change. Consider a degree as a veterinarian assistant. This degree takes a much shorter time and you can still help animals live better lives. Sometimes a compromise is a great solution.

Motivating Need

Some adults return to college not because they have the desire, but out of the need to learn new job skills that will advance their ability to provide for themselves and their families.

If this is your situation, you should do a good deal of soul searching to decide what you really want to do once you are out of school. Even if it is need that is driving you back into the classroom, it doesn’t mean that it has to be a torturous experience.

Decide what you truly want to do and then go for it. Many returning adults end up thriving in college and are totally surprised by their success and enjoyment of it, especially if they didn’t enjoy school at an earlier age. Finding the right program and field of study is important no matter what your reason for returning to school.

Technology Skills

Most returning adults worry that they will not have the technology skills to perform well in their classes. This is especially true if they are returning exclusively to the online classroom.

But as an online college professor, I can assure you that if you have the desire to earn a degree, you will thrive in the classroom, no matter where the classroom is. There well may be a learning curve, but there is staff available to guide you through the technological processes necessary.

And in general, I have found that if you can effortlessly shop online, private message on Facebook and email friends, you can conquer the technology that you will need in college.

Financial Rewards

When considering going back to college, it is important to consider what the possible financial rewards will be…if you are going to improve your job opportunities. Some adults take classes simply to enrich their lives because they enjoy being lifelong learners.

But if you are taking classes to gain better employment, change careers or advance in a current job, it’s wise to think about how much the education will cost vs. how much you can earn with the new skills. Though many people believe no one is too old to return to college, you do want to factor in the payout.

financial rewards

If you are unsure about the financial rewards of what you think you would like to do, explore more possibilities to discover aspects that should be factored in, such as length of degree, available jobs in that market, number of years you still have to work before retirement and amount of grants and scholarships you can get. This consideration will reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse later.

Life Enrichment

Even though we all need money to live, there are more important things in life than money. Consider how your life will be enriched by learning new skills and even moving into a new career field that you have dreamt of. Look for a balance between the marketability of your field of interest and your passion for it.

At this stage in life, you may decide that a college degree in a field that you are passionate about is more important than huge income potential. And, if you ponder long and hard about the benefits of new skills vs. your desire (or lack thereof) of returning to school, and you find you truly dread the idea, think about making a change in other ways.

Perhaps a short course or internship could teach you the skills needed to move in a new direction in your current career field.


One common fear of adults considering a return to college is that they will not be able to compete with younger graduates.

But remember, life experience counts for a great deal, and no one can manufacture it! Employers are savvy, and are aware that adults make for loyal, dependable employees, so do not allow this anxiety to keep you from moving ahead.

Job Opportunities

No matter what your educational goal, it is important to balance your passion and reality. As a returning adult, this is even more important. Make sure to learn about the job availability forecasts in your area of interest before starting out on a degree program.

If there is little job availability, you could end up feeling as though you wasted your time, ending up in the same situation you are currently in. Instead, consider broadening your scope of degrees so that you have a wide range of possible career fields open to you once you graduate.

If you have already decided on a university, take advantage of their academic and career counseling to help you make an informed decision about what field is both marketable and of interest to you.

Balancing School, Work And Family

Characteristically, adult students are much better at balancing their work load because they have had years of practice managing the various roles adults have to fill.

Returning adult students will need to do the same thing typical age students would do-schedule time to study, build good time management skills and stay self-motivated. Making sure that you have a support system in place is important in these situations, so get your family and friends involved in the decision.

Also, most colleges have study skills classes where students learn techniques for balancing work load, such as smart study practices, scheduling and time management strategies and note-taking techniques that you may have forgotten in the years between attending school.

family and children

Taking one of these classes as one of your first will not only give you the skills you will need, but will also help you feel more confident in your ability to succeed. If you are overly concerned about this issue, consider attending a school that caters to adult learners. They may offer additional support that you can access if you need assistance with managing multiple “jobs.”

Overall, no one is ever too old to return to college…if it’s what they really want to do! Most returning adult students discover that they are more successful and enjoy the experience much more than they expected to and that their fears were groundless.

If you want to return to college, whether it be to enrich your life by learning more about something that has always fascinated you or to get a job in a field you have always dreamed about, returning to college can be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family!