Whether you finished your undergraduate degree but are now considering returning to school for a career change or you never finished your bachelor’s degree, going back to school in your 30s is very different from doing so straight out of high school. However, there are actually some advantages in going to school later in life. You’ve almost certainly developed skills that will make you a better student, and you are probably more focused and motivated. The points below can all help ensure that your second time around in college is productive and successful.
Secure the Needed Funds
College hasn’t gotten any cheaper since you were 18, but the good news is that you might actually be eligible for more financial aid since your parents’ income is no longer relevant. You may also find it easier to get a student loan from a private lender since you have probably built up a substantial credit record. You can apply today to find out what you are eligible for. Grants and scholarships may also be available.
Choose Your Approach
One of the drawbacks of going to college in your 30s is that you probably have a lot more obligations than you did when you were 18. Fortunately, there are also more options. Online education has greatly expanded, and while an all-online program is not appropriate for certain fields of study, you may be able to at least start out with online classes if you need to fit your schedule around work and family. Another option is in-person classes that meet at night.
Dealing with Your Employer
If you are fortunate, your employer might encourage you to go back to school and may even pay for a portion of your tuition. However, you may also find yourself needing to work around a less supportive employer. While you might be able to initially get around this by taking online and night classes, there may come a point where you need to make a bigger commitment to your education. Some employers might be willing to work with you. In other situations, you may need to look for another job.
Dealing with Your Family
If you have a family, it can be a big change for them when you go back to school. If you are the main breadwinner or make a substantial portion of the family income, at some point, you might have to reduce your time at work, leading to a financial hit for the family. If you have primarily been the caregiver for children, you may need to make other arrangements or they might need to adjust to your new set of responsibilities. Older children might be able to start preparing meals or taking on other household tasks. If you are married or in a serious relationship, your partner might also have to take on some extra responsibilities. Your family will need to respect the fact that you need time to study. If you do not have a family, you may still have to prepare your friends for the fact that they might start seeing less of you.