Thinking of Going Back to School As An Adult?

You will definitely need note books and pens, won't you?
You will definitely need note books and pens, won't you? | Source

Back to School Overview

Going back to school is dreaded by many parents and children. But what about the adult going back to School? How do the children and spouse handle that? How does the adult returning to school feel?

Many adults gave up their opportunity to go to college or university to raise a family. Many gave up the opportunity to allow their spouse the opportunity of furthering their studies. Some also never went to college because their families could not afford it, so they went straight to work.

Quite a lot of adults would like to go back to school but fear many factors.

  1. Can they afford it?
  2. Can they handle the college level work?
  3. Do they have the time?
  4. What colleges and Universities are they qualified to attend?
  5. How will the other students (younger) treat them?
  6. Is it necessary at their age?
  7. Will my children or spouse support them?
  8. Can I get a scholarship, student aid or grant at their age?
  9. What field of study would be suited for their age or experience?
  10. Will they be able to find employment with their degree?
  11. What degree level to pursue?

Harvard University Lecture On Justice

College Level Eduaction - United States

If you are a high school graduate who never went to college, you may be wondering what level you should start at. There are several options available to you. But what I would suggest is to work out your study path, that is making a chart of your way to your desired degree level. This will take into consideration your time, the cost, the subject area, the speed with which you need your degree.

Here are your college level options

  1. An Associates Degree - this is not a complete degree. This is a two year program that completes 2/3 of the requirements for a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA). Medical degrees do not allow you to graduate at this level.
  2. BS/BA - Also referred to as a first degree or Undergraduate program is where most people prefer to graduate. The Bachelor's degree gives you approximately 80% knowledge of the required subject and is still not considered a full degree. In some instances most companies will not employ someone unless they have graduated at the Master's level. The Bachelors Degree is a three or four year program full time study that gives you a working knowledge of the subject. You don't need an Associates degree to enroll in this program, all levels of this program will be covered in the duration.
  3. Masters - MBA (Master of Business Administration), MS (Master of Science), MA (Master of Arts), MMS (Master of Management Studies), LLM (Master of Laws). Otherwise known as the Graduate program can only be enrolled into if you already possess an undergraduate degree. The program is usually one or two years in length full time but can be longer depending on your study options.
  4. Phd. LLD - The Doctorate program is the highest level of education. There are many areas that you can acquire your doctorate for. In most cases working toward this can take quite some time. This will depend totally on you.

Cambridge University

Back to School options for the Adult

There are several options available for the adult who wishes to go back to school.

  • Night School - This is usually a good option if you prefer a classroom setting and you work full time. Many people acquire their degrees through night school. Be careful though, this option can be very stressful and exhausting as you have to mange your time well and balance home, work, classes and study time. You need good time management skills in order to succeed through night school. Many Colleges and Universities have this option available. If you live near a college or university it would be wise to inquire about their options for older students first. Most Colleges and universities have special matriculation requirements for the adult learner and you find it's quite easy to attend school. A HSD, a Resume' and References from employers may get you enrolled. On some rare occasions they require SATs for the adult.
  • Full time - There are two options for the full time adult student. You may choose to live on campus or live off campus. This all depends on your home life, work situation of your preferences. One may ask why would an adult attend college full time? But there are instances where someone retires or get time off from work to do this, so it's possible. Choosing to stay on campus may be uncomfortable for the adult over 35 as most students on campus will be under 21. This is still an option to consider.
  • Part time - This is one of the more popular choices for the adult retuning to school. Taking one or two classes per week to make up credits. This can be a lengthy process but very cost effective. A 3 year program can take up to 7 years with the option, but still a good option non-the-less.
  • Online Education - During the las decade many colleges and universities, even Ivy League have been offering classes online. Many of these schools will give you a test to see how you will be able to handle inline learning before enrolling you. Upon completion of the test or assessment they will recommend the ideal means of study for you. Online classes will offer an account where you will be able to access your work, schedule, live classes and grades. A tutor is usually assigned to you to guide you with your assignments.
  • Distance Education - Many people confuse online with distance. Online refers to learning via the internet while distance refers to remote where your assignments and books are mailed to you and you return your complete assignments via snail mail. This is a self study program. An online account may be required but there are no live or delayed online classes. You account will be used to access your grades or contact your tutors or pay your tuition.
  • Self Study via exam method - This is very rear but possible. The self study via exam is where you study on your own, no college involved yet. After you feel confident that you are ready to sit exams you enroll in colleges that offer credit through examinations. This can mostly be achieved through CLEP (College Level Examination program). There are some colleges that offer a complete degree with enough credits form this program. This is by far the easiest and least expensive way to get your Associates or Bachelors degree.
  • Continuing Education - Continuing Education is really for those needing a few more certs or diplomas to add to their existing credentials. Most colleges and universities offer Graduate certificates and diplomas, just a little extra for the Bachelor or Masters degree programs.

Accelerated Education

Accelerated education simply means getting to that desired level at an accelerated pace. Where the normal undergraduate program could take as much as 4 years at a normal pace the accelerated undergraduate program could take as little as 1 - 2 years, depending on the amount of credits you have available and/or the amount of credits you are allowed to complete per semester.

Some Universities offer an Accelerated program but most will accept as much as 75% of the credits needed to graduate. For the Accelerated program the school will take into consideration any awards and certificates you earned that could count towards credits. Some schools will (though rarely) will give you credit towards life/work experience.

Life experience credits will be credited through what is known as PLA (Prior Learning Assessment). The area in which you have worked for a long period of time is what will allow this assessment. You will need to do a portfolio with your resume', any awards or certificates, references and a summary of your experiences.

Best areas of study for the adult over 35

Choosing an area of study must be thought out carefully. There are several factors to consider.

  1. What is your current area of work?
  2. Are you going back to school to get a promotion?
  3. What is your reason to go back to school?
  4. Will you need to find a job once you graduate?
  5. How soon do you want to graduate?

If you are seeking a career change as an adult you have to research areas that will employ someone at your age without the necessary experience. As you well know that getting employed does only dependent on your level of qualification but your experience.

Most employers will not employ a 40 year old manager with a Bachelors degree with no managerial experience. You getting a college level education must depend on your reason for going back to school. Do need a degree for career purposes or for novelty purposes just for the achievement.

Here is a list of areas you can study if you are over 35 if you need a new career.

  • Psychology
  • Counseling
  • Guidance Counseling
  • Teaching
  • Child Care
  • Nutrition
  • Human services or social work
  • Creatives and trades such as - Bridal consulting, Interior design and decorating (starting your own business)

Note: A new career for persons over 35 is difficult to break into. It is advisable to study the area in which your experience and expertise lie.

More by this Author

Comments 45 comments

LelahKimball profile image

LelahKimball 5 years ago from USA

Hmmm.... Interesting. I've had USC's new online program for a Masters in Communications taunting me lately. I've always wanted my Masters, but "life" interfered. And now I'm "over the hill"!?!?

Actually, great info and very well written.

SubRon7 profile image

SubRon7 5 years ago from eastern North Dakota

Good and useful hub, Cardisa, but I hope you aren't considering yourself "over-the-hill." Not by a long shot, my friend.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

LOL..Hey are definitely not over the hill!

I spent the last 5-6 years researching online and distance education. I have so much to write on the subject I am doing a part two.

You should go for it, it's never too late.

Thanks for reading and commenting

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi James, I do consider myself that way sometimes, like now that my neck hurts from sitting around the computer all day!

Thanks for the vote, my friend.

epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

....well there's an old adage - you'll never too old - especially if you retain an open mind and a good attitude - but there is one classroom door I hope is always open for this willing student (and admirer): the school of CARDISA!

lake erie time 9:49pm may this new half moon be shining just for you ....

Rhonda_M profile image

Rhonda_M 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I teach a lot of "older" (what is old anyhow) students, and they are the best ... they know why they're in the course, are enthusiastic, serious, and make it rewarding to teach!

Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

As much as I enjoy a classroom setting, online education is more appealing to me. No travel involved. My daughter is getting her masters degree online through Liberty University, a very fine school, and she loves it.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Epigramman, I am thinking of going back to school too, so it's never too late. I just used the title for attention.

Thanks for your support Epi.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Can I be in your class Rhonda? I spent years researching schools and now I still haven't made up my mind!

Thanks for commenting.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

I agree with you Sinea. I don't want to attend regular classes I prefer the distance education or online classes.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago look like you just got out of high school!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Whoa, so my secret potion has been working! Thanks Epi, making my head swell as usual.

FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Good article. Many of the adults I know have found ways to pursue degrees. Most of them have used on-line, teleconference, or part-time methods for receiving the education material.

I'd offer twoo additonal (perhaps motivational) thoughts: First, there is no such thing as 'over the hill' when it comes to learning. I can't tell you how many times I've actually paused during a day to thank someone for teaching me something new. "Anyday you learn something is a good day, so today is a good day. Thank you." And then I'll relay back to them what I had just learned from them.

Second is this: You have to look at education in a long term view, and not be in a hurry. Ten years from now you will have the 'badge' of a degree behind you. A badge that helps open doors, that might otherwise be closed no matter how smart or talented you are. That isn't right, but it is what it is. On the other hand, if you don't ever try, you never open those doors. Knowledge is not a fleeting thing. Once truly learned, knowledge becomes a part of who you are.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Fitnezz, I thank you for your comments and support. I hope my title is not offending anyone, I just used it for effect, hoping people would find it funny!

Thank you for your insight and words of encouragement.

carol3sab 5 years ago

Thanks for the article. It is very well written and It reminds me of myself several years ago when I went back to school as an adult. I may have done it on line but duing that time I don't believe there any on line classes.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you so much Carol. I am so delighted that yet another adult had the desire and courage to go back to school. Good for you!

Richawriter profile image

Richawriter 5 years ago from Bangkok, Thailand

Very very useful hub Cardisa. I would like to go back to University one day but for now, there is no rush. A degree doesn't necessarily guarantee that you will get a good job.

However, I'm all for doing courses aimed at getting people ready to go it alone in areas like counseling, beauty therapy, health etc etc. I think in this day and age, it is much more economical to do a course like that and then go it alone or with a partner. I have a couple of counseling diplomas and eventually, when I'm done with teaching, I'll go freelance.

I love the layout of your hub, by the way! Awesome!!!

Take Care Cardisa! :) Rich

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Rich. You are right, a degree does not guarantee a good job, but, it does drive up the odds. I also agree that doing courses that are aimed at increasing your skills that will better serve you as an entrepreneur, especially in these times.

Hope you do decide to give going back to school a go too.

Thank you, I was hoping for a good looking layout.

LelahKimball profile image

LelahKimball 5 years ago from USA

I'm definitely pursuing it. I may have been a stay-at-home mom (technically) for the past 10+ years, but I certainly haven't been sitting around. Even though the program is being aimed at working adults, the advisor said between my undergrad degrees, my job history, and what I've currently been doing, I'm a strong candidate. All I need to do is take my GREs and submit my app.

I'm looking forward to the boost it can give--work wise. Plus, I want my kids to know that both their parents value education and have graduate degrees. And that is never too late, even when you are over 35.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Lelah, it is never too late so long as you have breath. I am proud of you. Right now the funds are holding me back but still on my agenda.

I also agree with you showing your children the value of an education.

Hiccupp profile image

Hiccupp 5 years ago

Check out Western Governors University.

That is where this old fogy is going to finally finish his degree.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey Hiccup, I hope I didn't offend you!

Thanks for the link.

Hiccupp profile image

Hiccupp 5 years ago

No offense at all. I jokingly say I am an old fogy and I probably am to the young ones but I don't feel like one. lol

K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California

Excellent information for us over the hill adults who may think about going back to school. I think you are brilliant in your advice about sticking with what you know--expanding ones knowledge within your current field makes perfect sense. Nice hub!



always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Cardisa, This is a really hot topic right now, many are going back to school later in life. I took a course not too long ago. I don't think you're ever too old to learn. Lots of good info. here.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you K9, not that learning something new is bad for us old fogies but for career purposes it is the best route.

Thanks for the support.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Ruby, it's never too late to get that diploma in your hands. I once heard about an eighty year old law student!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, this is great, I actually went back to school, night school in fact, back in the nineties, I studied psychology and did four years study, I should have done the last term as I would now be a qualified councelor! but maybe I will go back and carry on, it was a little weird but I soon got back into the habit of learning, taking notes etc, I also did a writing course, but to be honest it was a waste of time seeing as I had been writing since I was ten! I may not have been very good at that time, but the tutor seemed to teach the stuff that we all seemed to know, but the psychology was great, cheers nell

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

You are right Nell. I also did a writing course and flew through it. My tutor ask me if I was a professional journalist. I have been writing since I was ...I don't remember!

Psychology was a good choice!

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

hmmm. I am 35. You have titled the hub with the words "over the hill." Then later you talk about subjects to study for adults over 35. hmmmm...

My B.A. is in Psychology and English. I graduated in 1999.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Flora, OH no. I didn't mean it! I just wanted an unusual title. I will change the title if that will make you feel better. Flora, I am 40, so more over the hill than

prey profile image

prey 5 years ago from places you should hope we never meet

Cardisa, aside from the fact this is your hub, it was your title that I found most inviting to come in. Glad I did too. As you know, I was 13 years old the last time I saw the inside of any classroom and any form of education. Lucky I was blessed with determination to be gifted with a lucrative global career nonetheless. I have been wanting to go back to school for some time for Interior Design, hell woodworking would be cool even. Yet I always find an excuse to be too busy [doing nothing] uh oh getting long winded so unlike me lol

My point is simple, thank you, thank you for reminding me I will never be too old to learn and am deserving to do so. Thank you for this so appropriately timed hub for me.

Love you girl

great job

up/awesome, hell all above


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Kimmy is that you? Whoa!

I was thinking that someone was messing with me but only you would have a profile pic so provocative!

We are never too old to go back to school and we sure as hell are not over the

Thanks Kimmy, I sure hope you get the chance to realize that dream.

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

no, you don't have to change the title :-)

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Flora!

KiaKitori profile image

KiaKitori 5 years ago

Cardisa, you nailed it down! I like you make the side column explaining the types of degrees. As a resident in the US I found that I was a little confused about the associate degree that was not an option in my country.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you Kia, I know what you mean.

It's a bit confusing especially if you live in Asia or the UK as this is not an option at all. I should have explained the UK options too. I think I'll do another hub about UK ans Asia education.

Thanks for the idea!

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

a great hub which i am sure will inspire many.

Take care


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you Eiddwen, I hope that it's of help to even one, that would make me happy indeed.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Aaaah, this is such a contentious subject amongst many of my friends- regardless of age! You've discussed it quite well. Thanks for laying out the options and important factors to consider so nicely!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you Simone :D

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 5 years ago

Sorry Cardisa , I din't go to cullig an I aint to smurt! Butt thinks anywey.....LOL...:-] I agree with epiman ....Cardisa for our teacher , I'll bring you an apple!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Nice big and juicy, and you can be teachers pet!

cowtowngirl77 profile image

cowtowngirl77 5 years ago

Very intereting. I got my bachelors degree In my 60s. It was ok

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica Author

Congrats Cowtowngirl, I am proud of you! It goes to show that it's never too late to go for it.

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