What are Some Considerations for Those Going Back to School Later in Life?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2019
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Going back to school later in life can be a great experience. The older people get, the more likely they are to have reached a decision about exactly what they want to do in life. When and where to go to school and juggling schoolwork with work and family responsibilities are some things to consider when you're thinking of going back to school.

Although it can sometimes be a little daunting to be nearly twice as old as the majority of students on college campuses, older students are more common these days than they once were. College was once thought of as only something for young adults, but that has changed as an appreciation of lifelong learning has become more of a part of our culture. If you still find yourself worried about your age difference, speak to advisors at your school or think of ways to meet other older students, such as starting a special study group.

You may also want to consider distance education. Many top universities have programs that allow students to take classes online, and if you can find a program in your field, it may be an excellent alternative to attending in person. Some distance education programs may require you to complete the exams in person, but usually only once per course. Taking these classes also saves on transportation costs and is more environmentally friendly.


People with family and/or work responsibilities often find that distance education can really save time. You can learn from home during time that you schedule to fit your needs. Many parents find that they can avoid having to put their children in daycare while they attend school and can take classes at the time that suits them best.

Whether you decide to attend classes in person or via computer when you go back to school, make sure ahead of time that the classes suit your career prospects or goals. It's also a good idea to take prep courses for subjects, such as mathematics or statistics, if you've been out of school for some time. Making sure to have enough time for study is important too. Keep in mind as well that most distance education courses today have online discussions to participate in that count as course credit.



Discuss this Article

Post 5

As a married father of three kids (all under ten) with a working wife, I work long hours (over 55 hours a week), I am studying at post grad level. I can tell you it's about being organized and committed. When it's time to knuckle down, you need to get started immediately with no time wasting.

Speaking of which, I hear a textbook calling.

Post 4

ShowStopper- I have a close friend who went back to college in her late 30s after she had already had two children. She enrolled in distance education courses at the local college. This was very convenient for her because it allowed her to study on her own. She could do homework at her own home and could still work during the day because she did school work at night or on the weekends.

However, my friend did say that it was very hard for her to stay motivated. Taking distance education courses means that you have to be completely independent and do the work yourself. You don't have a professor making you turn in homework and take notes in class. You have to be really motivated in order to get good grades.

Post 3

SilentIce- Thank you for the helpful information.

Has anyone who went back to school later in life taken distance education courses? Do you think it was easier than taking traditional university classes?

Post 2

The article touched on some very important things that those going back to school later in life should consider. Another thing that people should consider is that is might be necessary for them to quit their full time job and get a part time job. It can be very difficult to keep a full time job when going to school.

You will need extra time to attend class, study for tests and do homework.

Even working part time can sometimes be a challenge if you have a difficult class schedule. You will really want to consider how switching to a part time job will affect your finances. Consider if you will be able to meet your living expenses while also paying for tuition and books.

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