Should I go back to school? Here are a few things to consider
Going back to school as an adult can be a decision as tough as it is exciting. Don’t feel alone if you ever find yourself wondering: Should I go back to school? Is it worth going back to college? Are there any programs or grants to go back to school for adults? Am I too old to consider going back to school? Numerous Americans share these about such an important choice, and more and more of them decide to go for it every year.
Reports show a constant yearly increase in individuals going back to school as adult students. In fact, returnees now make up almost 60% of enrolled undergraduates. Even if many still wonder if the reasons to do it are worth more than the reasons to avoid it, we can say that going back to school at 30 or more years old is a new normal.
The pool of adult learners includes a variety of individuals from different backgrounds and age groups. This means that not all of them share the same needs or goals or are motivated to go back to school by the same reasons. However, increasing one’s earning potential is known to be among the main motivations.
But what else persuades adults into going back to school and what are the major barriers to success? This article will shed a light.
Reasons to Go Back to School
Motivation is what keeps the fire burning. If your goal is going back to college and to graduate, you have bigger chances to do so if you never lose focus of your why(s). Before digging into the difficulties you may encounter and how to overcome them, let’s explore the most common reasons pushing adults into going back to school at 40, 50 years old or more.
- Career Change: Maybe after a decade or two your career has become boring, frustrating, and even obsolete. Going back to school offers you the opportunity to reinvent yourself professionally.
- Career Improvement: In certain industries your experience will only take you so far, or you might find tha tyour skills are suddenly outdated. To continue to advance your career, perhaps going back to school at 30 is the best choice for you.
- Flying Solo: If you ever get tired of working for someone else and want to work for yourself make sure you acquire the skills and knowledge to do so. If in the future you imagine yourself owning a business, going back to college can help you fill in gaps regarding company leadership and management.
- Making More Money: Of course there are exceptions, but in general a college degree significantly improves your employment prospects and earnings potential. Adults holding a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $2.8 million throughout their careers. This is $1.2 million more than the median for workers with a only high school diploma.
- Plan B: Maybe you don’t need to go back to school VCR repairmen in the 1980s probably thought the same. But as technology changes, doing so might give you more options, and ensure you financial stability, if something occurs in the future that impacts your current career.
- Personal Growth: Leaning something new can be really fun, especially if you are passionate about that subject. Moreover, it can be a challenge, something to keep your mind busy, a way to set an example for the young people in your life that look up to you, like your children or younger brother.
Challenges You Might Face as an Adult Going Back to School
Should I go back to school with all the financial, work, and family obligations I have now as an adult? This is the question lingering in the mind of many adults wanting to further their education. To answer this question, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons. The costs of going back to college as an adult are what worry many people facing this decision.
There are not just tuition fees, textbooks, and interest on your student loan. There are also childcare costs if you are a parent, lost wages if you need to temporarily leave or cut back time at work, rent or home loan payments that you may now need to meet on a smaller salary, health insurance and transportation to campus to name a few.
To help you make your decision, you should also consider that although in your 40s or 50s you most likely have a whole lot more responsibilities than when you were 18, you have also mastered several more key life skills like perseverance, planning, focus and self-control. On top of that, schools are always trying to satisfy adult learners’ needs to be even more appealing to them.
They do so mainly by creating and expanding flexible learning options, like online degree programs that can be completed at your own pace. Some schools also offer affordable on-campus childcare, scholarships, and financial assistance programs. Even companies are recognizing the importance of funding their employee’s education and many offer tuition reimbursement programs and other incentives to go back to school. Do your research and then sit down and assess your personal situation and finances and if you can realistically afford to study again.
Useful Resources for Adults Wanting to Go Back to School
Anyone debating going back to school as an adult should know that there are many resources that can help you to take this step. A lot of adults feel like they are alone in their struggle of juggling family, work, and school but that is far from true. It’s precisely because there are so many adult learners that every day it is becoming easier and easier to find and get access to resources made just for people like you, catered to satisfy your needs.
If you want to know how to get a GED read our dedicated article or keep reading to know about some useful resources for adults going back to college:
- Grants to go back to school: There are numerous grants offered by the United States Department of Education, state governments, colleges, private and nonprofit organizations. Many are small in amount but it’s possible to get more than one grant or scholarship. The easiest to obtain grants to go back to school are the federal ones, like the Pell Grant, which can be granted for any degree program and for certain vocational courses. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to determine your federal aid eligibility.
- Programs to help you go back to school: Besides grants and scholarships there are other methods and resources that can help you afford to go back to college. Some examples are Federal Direct Stafford Loans, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal Direct PLUS Loans, and Federal Direct Consolidation Loans. There is also the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program that forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans if you meet the conditions to qualify.
- Childcare financial assistance options: Finding affordable childcare is one of the main struggles of American parents who work and/or study. If you need help paying for childcare there are different programs designed to assist you. These include your local state resources, government programs like Head Start and Early Head Start, and employer-sponsored Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account. Plus, student and military discounts are often offered by childcare facilities.
- Monster Salary Tool: Besides finding out the median salary for every main job and location in the country, you can use our salary comparison tool to discover the top paying jobs by college major. Knowing what jobs and locations pay best can help you make better informed choices for your education and career.
Get a Job That Allows You to Go Back to School: Find It on Monster!
If you are going back to school at 30, 40, 50 or beyond but also want to work, join Monster today for free. Set up custom alerts to be notified when new jobs matching your selected criteria are posted on our database. Also, don’t forget to upload your resume to attract hiring professionals to your profile, they might reach out to you with incredible job opportunities fitting your skills.