If you’re considering finishing your degree, you may find it difficult to imagine yourself back in the classroom. Maybe you imagine yourself sticking out like a sore thumb in classes filled with teenagers and early-20-somethings. Or you might worry that you’ll struggle to balance your homework with your day job, childcare, and other “adulting” responsibilities. You may even ask, “Am I too old to go back to school?”
Don’t let these fears stop you from following your dreams. It’s never too late to expand your mind and earn a college degree. In fact, many adult learners excel in the classroom due to their life experience and drive to succeed. Let’s explore the age myth, the benefits of returning to school, and some tips that will help you thrive.
Debunking the Age Myth: Education Has No Expiration Date
People often assume that all college students have recently graduated from high school, but that’s not true. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 15% of all full-time undergraduate students and 41% of all part-time students are over 25. Additionally, 49% of full-time students who attend private nonprofit two-year colleges fall into this category.
As this data demonstrates, college students come from many walks of life, and there’s no age limit for earning a degree. You can improve yourself and gain new knowledge at any stage of your life.
Embrace Your Educational Journey: Age Is Just a Number
Many adult learners fear that they’re too old to succeed in college, but don’t let your age deter you from going back to school. You don’t need to follow the traditional educational journey to succeed.
Finishing your degree is an investment in yourself that you can make at any time. Enrolling in a college program is one of the best ways to challenge your mind and break out of old routines. Plus, you may influence your children, friends, and neighbors to follow in your footsteps.
Success Stories: Meet Inspirational Adult Learners Who Defied Age Norms
You don’t have to look far to find non-traditional role models. Here are three fearless adult students who have already finished their degrees with the help of Mississippi’s Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program.
Kierre Rimmer always wanted to return to college, but fear of failure held him back. Eventually, his desire to be a positive role model for his children motivated him to take the plunge. His C2C Coach encouraged him to enroll at Delta State University, and he recently completed his degree.
“It felt great to hear my wife say she’s proud of me, and the smile on my kids’ faces was priceless,” Kierre recalled.
Similarly, LaShawnda Clay spent six years in college but originally left without finishing her degree. With the help of C2C, she later received a bachelor’s degree in University Studies. Like all degree programs pursued by C2C students at Mississippi community colleges and public universities, this flexible program counts previous college credits and some technical credits. As a result, students like LaShawnda can complete their degrees faster.
LaShawnda has enjoyed the personal benefits of finishing college. “I feel like a great role model for our kids,” she said. “Their mom is a college graduate.”
Finally, Rosa Hall completed her University Studies degree while balancing two jobs and two kids. She made time to study during her night shift as a cashier. The C2C program also provided much-needed support.
“The C2C program kept me on track — I always knew what I had to do and the people I had to contact,” Rosa said.
Later, she enrolled in graduate school and plans to earn a PhD.
Advantages of Going Back to School as an Adult
Completing your degree gives you more than a fancy piece of paper to hang on the wall. You’ll also receive countless personal and professional benefits.
Gaining Confidence: How Education Boosts Self-Assurance at Any Age
Going back to school as an adult can give you a confidence boost. You’ll feel empowered as you overcome the challenge of mastering difficult subjects and learning new technology. Additionally, class assignments allow you to strengthen your interpersonal skills so you can interact in social settings more confidently.
This newfound confidence can positively impact your professional life. According to a study by TopInterview, 42% of employers view confidence as one of the most important traits in job candidates. The self-assurance you get from college could help you land your dream job.
Opening New Doors: Opportunities for Career Growth and Change
Earning a college degree is one of the most effective ways to boost your career. According to the Pew Research Center, 70% of college graduates report that their education has unlocked new job opportunities. Additionally, 65% have gained skills they can use in the workplace.
Going back to school also opens the door to higher-paying positions. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that people with bachelor’s degrees earn a median weekly wage of $1,334, while those with only a high school diploma earn $809. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree holders was 3.5% in 2021, compared to 6.2% for high school graduates.
How to Overcome the Challenges: Balancing Life, Work, and Studies
A mature student typically has a different college experience than a traditional learner. You may spend your Friday nights caring for your children instead of attending a fraternity party or pulling an all-night study session. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get the most out of your college program. Here are a few tips to help you succeed.
Time Management Hacks: Juggling Responsibilities Like a Pro
Adult learners often have hectic schedules. These strategies will enable you to maximize your study time:
- Create a consistent schedule.
- Use a planner and to-do lists to stay organized.
- Create flash cards for upcoming tests and study them whenever you have downtime at home or work.
- Take evening classes so you can keep your day job.
- Get enough sleep to improve your focus.
Additionally, online programs often have asynchronous classes that you can complete on your own schedule, giving you more flexibility.
Find Support: Building a Network of Encouragement
Finishing your degree can be challenging and isolating, so having a strong support network is essential. These methods will help you obtain assistance:
- Ask your spouse or children to handle more household responsibilities.
- Invite other adult learners to form a study group.
- Consult academic advisors for career advice.
- Join online support groups for non-traditional learners.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you’re struggling. You may be pleasantly surprised by how willing your friends and family are to lend a helping hand on your educational journey.
Are You Ready to Take the Next Step? Learn How C2C Can Help You Today
Going back to college as an adult may seem intimidating, but you can resume your educational journey successfully at any age. C2C’s adult completion program has helped thousands of non-traditional students finish their degrees with Mississippi student aid. We offer renewable grants to qualifying students who are 21 to 59 years old and have been out of school for at least two years. Additionally, C2C Coaches offer personal coaching support to help students overcome any barriers they may face.
If you’re ready to take the next step, you can start by filling out our quick application and scheduling an informational meeting with a C2C representative.