Going Back to College at 30
Going back to school at 30 can seem intimidating. More than likely you have more responsibilities now than you did right out of high school. You may be married, have kids, and have a mortgage. But even if you don’t, you still have plenty going on in your life that adds to your stress level. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be doable, or well worth it.
Have no fear! Many people go back to college in their 30s and for a variety of reasons. More often than not, it’s to jumpstart a career either in a new field or improve their current position. Either way, there may be plenty of benefits. And we have some advice to make going back to school at 30 just a bit easier.
73% of American adults consider themselves to be lifelong learners.[*]
Benefits of Going Back to School at 30
Going back to school at 30 isn’t an easy decision to make. More than likely, you are struggling to balance your personal and professional responsibilities as it is, without school added to the mix. However, that doesn’t mean you should only worry about the extra work and forget the how it might pay off.
You May Be Better Prepared
Yes, you have more responsibilities now. You’re working, you may have a house, and you may have a family. Hard to believe, but those extra responsibilities might actually help you when it comes time to study. Now, you know what it’s like to manage your time and complete tasks. Plus, you have the bigger picture in mind.
Sometimes pursuing an undergraduate degree right out of college seems like just another layer of school and you can easily become frustrated. Now, in your 30s, you likely know what degree you want to earn, why you want to earn that degree, and how that degree may jumpstart your career.
You Could Change Careers
It’s possible that when you originally pursued an undergraduate degree, you were young and naïve. You may have thought you knew what you wanted with your future but have now changed your mind. These may also be reasons why you decided not to go to college right out of high school in the first place.
Now, as an adult, you probably have a much clearer understanding of your short and long-term goals. If you’re stuck in a job or career that you no longer have a passion for, going back to school at 30 may provide an opportunity for you to pursue the change you want. You might learn be able about a whole new field, not to mention earn a potentially valuable credential.
If you are going back to school to change careers, make sure you research a number of different opportunities. Look into which majors are preferred for your desired career, and see if there are any additional necessary certifications or licenses so that you may have a complete understanding of all requirements. A degree is not a guarantee of employment, but it couldn’t hurt to try to put your best effort forward.
Further Education Could Further Your Career
If you’re one of the people who made a great decision and are on a career path that you enjoy, going back to school may provide a chance to further your education, which may further your career. Many undergraduate degrees not only offer a choice of major, but also concentrations. By choosing a concentration, you could add specificity to your degree that may help you develop the skills, knowledge, and credentials you might need to qualify for a higher-level job description. Going back to school at 30 and getting another degree, or your first, may help you become more of an expert in your field.
Your Company May Pay for It
Many companies today offer forms of tuition assistance as part of their benefits package. If you choose a major or concentration that helps add a deeper understanding of your current position, and potentially prepares you for higher-level positions, your company may pay for some of your college credits. The company could benefit from having a better-educated staff. They may even get a tax break. And you may be one step closer to achieving your goals.
Not all companies offer these benefits and often there are a variety of qualifying requirements. Check with your employer to see if they offer any type of college-credit reimbursement to see if this benefit applies to you.
Fears You May Have About Going Back to College at 30
Taking on the adventure of going back to school at 30 can be scary. Many students have fears about returning to the grind of school on top of all of their other responsibilities. These anxieties can actually keep some students from applying to school or finally taking the plunge and registering for classes even after being accepted.
However, don’t allow these fears to keep you from achieving your goal of earning your degree. Instead, take the time to understand each of the fears listed below, why they scare you, and how you could overcome them.
You’ll Be the Oldest One in Class
Many older students are worried about walking into the first class of the semester and being the oldest one in the classroom by decades. Even worse, is going into class after class, semester after semester, and having the same experience.
More often than not, this fear is overblown. First off, even younger students could appreciate you going back to school at 30 to try and improve yourself and further your career. Plus, many of today’s college classrooms are a diverse mix of young and old students.
This fear is even less of an issue if you choose to pursue your degree online. There, other students will more than likely get to know your personality through your posts and comments before they know how old you are (if they ever do at all). Of course, online learning may lead to other fears.
You Won’t Understand the Technology
Technology changes at a rapid pace. So do the most popular apps and tools that the younger students in your class may be talking about. Even if you pursue your degree in a traditional, on-campus setting, the fear of ever-changing technology can be intimidating.
However, don’t let this keep you from pursuing your goals. In fact, look at it as part of the learning process. More than likely, these technologies will creep into the workplace over the next few years. Therefore, you could actually be developing skills and knowledge before some of your professional peers.
Plus, many schools, both online and on-campus, offer students a variety of technological resources that can help you with the new technology and software used in classes. Contact individual schools to learn what types of tech help and services may be available to you.
Your Professional Life Will Suffer
Some people who decide to go back to school at 30 fear that their professional responsibilities will suffer because of the time commitment required to earn a degree. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. You may be able to apply some of the lessons and theories from your classes at work right away. Your studies could actually enhance your professional life, not detract from it.
It’s also a good idea to tell your coworkers and boss that you are going back to school (only if it is to further your current career and not to switch careers). This will show that you have the drive to better yourself and could be a good way to share new insights. This may also make it easier to juggle your new responsibilities. Your coworker will likely be much more understanding when you say no to after-hour functions so you may be able to keep up with the school work.
You Won’t Be Able to Keep Up
More than likely, the younger students in your classes don’t have the same amount of responsibilities as you do. Many of them don’t have a family, a house, or a full-time job. But those responsibilities shouldn’t keep you from deciding to go back to college. Instead, those are the reasons why you’re choosing to push yourself and pursue a degree.
There will be a learning curve as you adjust to the amount of time you need to dedicate to your coursework. But as an adult, you may have developed useful time management skills. Many schools also offer a number of academic services, including tutors, that could help you on your journey.
Plus, there’s also plenty of good advice available to help you through the difficulties. We’ve gathered some of our favorite tips right here.
Advice for Going Back to College
Once you overcome your fears and decide to go back to school, the journey isn’t over. In fact, it’s only just begun. But that’s part of the adventure, and the proper preparation could ensure you spend your time learning, not stressing.
Do Plenty of Research Before Applying
There are thousands of options when it comes to college. You need to do your due diligence every step of the way to make sure that you find a perfect school for you. This includes researching different schools, majors, and concentrations to find the program that best suits your goals and expectations.
But once you’ve made your mind up of going back to school at 30, doing all of this research could actually prepare you for the rigors of the classroom. When performing research, set aside specific time every week and dedicate that to your search for colleges and programs. This will get you in the habit of sitting down and getting work done at specific times – an important habit to have for your future studies.
Manage Your Time But Have Fun
One of the biggest obstacles of going back to college at 30 is managing your time. With all of your various responsibilities, the only way to achieve your goals is to find a balance. That means scheduling time to perform your coursework, even if you attend an online program, so that you don’t get distracted.
It may seem like your coursework on top of your professional responsibilities are going to make it so you never have time for your family or for relaxation. However, the quickest way to burn out is to avoid the things that bring you happiness. Don’t forget to set aside time every week to spend time with your loved ones and your friends. They could be a great source of happiness that may relieve the stress of pursuing your degree.
Create a Plan
No matter how motivated you are to earn your degree, there will come a point where the inspiration has evaporated. It will seem like a never-ending process and the stress and doubt will creep in. If you don’t have a concrete plan, this may be the time when you take some time off and then never get back to it.
That’s why creating a plan is such an important part of going back to college. It should be clear and concise with milestones, timelines, and even rewards built in so you can always have a clear vision of the end result in mind.
Having rewards, such as a weekend trip or a shopping spree, could provide you with short-term goals. This might give you something to look forward to that is closer and more achievable than the overall goal of earning your degree. And keep you moving forward.
Know What You Want to Do
In order to get the most out of your experience back in the classroom, you should have clear goals as to what you want to achieve. This doesn’t only mean the degree that you want to earn, but also some of the skills you’d like to develop and any additional licenses or certifications you may need to pursue. Think about how you’ll use your degree or the next step in your journey after graduation.
Having as many of your goals clearly defined before you go back to school will make the tough days that much easier. Some students also have pictures of their family or of a graduation cap and gown on the desk to act as constant reminders. Find something motivating and keep working every day.
If you’re thinking about going back to school at 30, don’t worry. Though it could be a difficult process, you may set yourself up for long-term success. You could even start your research right here. Just visit our handy program wizard on the top right and find the perfect programs for you!