It’s tempting to picture hypothetical college students as people in their late teens and early twenties who love to party more than study. But the truth is, more and more non-traditional students with spouses, children, and full-time jobs are also in school. If you’re considering going back to college yet unsure because of your age, consider this…
1. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. If you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance you’ve been thinking about going back to school for awhile now. To put things into perspective, why not compare enrolling in some classes to starting a new diet or exercise plan? The longer you wait to begin, the longer it will be before you accomplish something and start to see results. If you had started watching your eating habits and hitting the gym when the idea first crossed your mind a few weeks (or months, or years) ago, you’d most likely be in a better spot than you are right now. The same can be said about going back to college.
2. You’re (most definitely) not alone. You might feel a little uneasy because you had more candles on your last birthday cake than your future classmates did, but don’t fret. The National Center for Education Statistics has determined that the number of college students over the age of 25 increased by 34 percent between 2000 and 2010. That said, you won’t be the only one on campus who isn’t eagerly anticipating their 21st birthday. If you’re slightly embarrassed or feeling odd about the thought of being “the old one” in class, stop right now You will have different priorities and a different schedule due to obligations that younger students most likely aren’t facing, but you’ll have one huge thing in common—your classes!
3. You’ll most likely earn more money. Despite recent media attention as to whether or not a degree is worth it, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that education pays. Not only do full-time and salaried employees with degrees make more money than high school graduates and those with less than a high school diploma, unemployment rates are lower among college graduates, too. A college degree may help you move up the ladder at work or enter a higher-paying field.
4. Your kids (or family or friends) will look up to you. Children learn by example—yes, even teenagers. The Condition of Education 2011, a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, states that although it’s not the only determining factor, their parents’ education levels play an important role in whether or not high school students go to college after completing high school. How will you encourage your children to go to a state university or community college if you haven’t finished your degree? If you don’t have kids yet, you will still set a good example for other relatives and your circle of friends or colleagues.
5. Education impacts health. In addition to improving your chances for better-paying jobs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics has found that people with bachelor’s degrees have healthier habits and live longer lives. According to USA Today, nearly one-third of adults with high school diplomas or less were smokers, compared to just nine percent of bachelor’s degree recipients. In short, educated people tend to make healthier lifestyle choices. As expected, they generally have better access to health care due to increased earnings.
6. Financial aid is out there. We’re led to believe that college is an unaffordable nightmare. On top of paying tuition, fees, and buying those oh-so-ridiculously-expensive textbooks, your work schedule might even be altered because you’ll be in class, which can potentially affect your current income. It’s certainly not as cheap as it was in decades past, but many adults who are going back to college qualify for some type of financial aid. Be sure to file your FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov (beware of sites with similar addresses and always remember that submitting the FAFSA is always free.) Many corporations also offer tuition assistance or reimbursement for employees.
In closing, while it’s true that going back to school after being out of the classroom for years—or even going to college for the first time—won’t be a total piece of cake, the same can be said for nearly anything worthwhile in life. For more information about college and finding the right school for you, take advantage of the resources right here on StateUniversity.com.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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