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Thinking of Going Back to School As An Adult?

Updated on March 1, 2014
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Carolee is a passionate writer with a love for learning and teaching. She is a published author, poet, blogger, and content creator.

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.


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