For most people, education is their life’s ambition. It doesn’t matter at what age one decides to commit to achieving this goal. Especially nowadays when colleges and universities are more diverse than ever when it comes to students’ age. For a long time, students were divided into two groups: traditional students and non-traditional students. The traditional students were those who went to college straight out of high school and were often either financially dependent on their families or on state aid.

On the other hand, non-traditional students were students who decided to get back to school a few years after they finished high school and were financially independent. Currently, the line which divided those groups of students has started to blur. The reason is the high number of students who are deciding to start or continue college in their mid-twenties. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students who start college at 25 will highly increase in the next decade.

Despite the high number of students who are going back to school as adults, the number of challenges for them is not low. Most of these students have a full-time job, have a family to take care of and/or other responsibilities. They have several things to consider before they decide to take action into enrolling in a particular university.

Motivation to Go Back to School

For numerous reasons, many people can’t start college or university right after high school. However, after some years, they might think they are ready to get back in this direction. What encourages one to consider finishing higher education after a certain period of time can be different for different people. Work promotions, career changes, or even the eagerness to finish what they started years ago.

However, those who are thinking of getting back to school should think carefully and be positively sure this is what they want to do. This decision is a significant step and a huge commitment, as they will have to juggle work and family time amongst other obligations adults have.

Paying for College Options

There are several financial options for students fresh out of high school. However, for the students who are going back to school as adults, those options are slightly lower. In case you are considering getting into a university, you need to make a plan for your finances. Ambition doesn’t suffice to enroll at a university. It would be best if you had a clear idea of how you are going to pay for school. Find out what will it cost for you to get back out there and then consider the method of payment. Usually, students tend to choose one of the three options provided below:

Pay it yourself

Many adult students are financially independent and want to stay that way. Perhaps they have a job that pays well, and they can afford the tuition, fees and everything else. Maybe they may plan on paying after they get the degree and land a job that offers a decent salary.

Get federal aid

One other option for the students who want to achieve their dream of finishing their degree is to get Federal assistance. However, there are some conditions for eligibility.

  • Prove the lack of debt on the previous student loans
  • Prove financial need
  • Be enlisted as a regular student in an eligible degree
  • Sustain a satisfying GPA during your academic years

Get financial aid by the university

Many universities offer their students a variety of scholarships and grants. Before you decide to apply to a university, get in touch with their office for financial assistance. There are scholarships and grants designed for adult students only and see if you qualify for those.

Also, a number of foundations, religious groups, and associations offer scholarships and fellowships to adult students.

Finding a Balance

One of the biggest challenges for adult students is to find a way to balance work, family, and school. An 8+ hour job leaves little space for the students to commit to other activities during the day. Most of the universities have schedules that range from morning to afternoon lectures. The family, on the other hand, has its demands.

Before you decide to apply, see if you can build a support system for yourself. See if there could be somebody in the family who could find time to help you with kids and their needs, house chores, and everything else you might need help. When you have somebody you can depend on, it will be easier for you to focus on the school responsibilities. That person can be your partner, a family member, or someone else close to you.

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Finding a Suitable University

On the path towards education, students who are considering starting college at 25 should do in-depth research on the universities they are considering before they decide to apply. Not all universities can be considerate of your situation. You should be on the lookout for universities that offer flexible schedules, financial support and the option of online learning.

Some colleges or universities may also offer the option of translating your work experience and knowledge previously acquired into academic credit.

Adjusting to School

Another challenge for 25+ students in the process of returning to the school environment is the thought of incapability. This can be a concern for adult students, although it shouldn’t be. If you are one, know that you’re more capable than you think. Your professional and personal experience will most probably be of service. In many things that are going to be lectured throughout the academic year, you will have a life experience behind it. So, consider experience as an advantage.

Another dread that students can have is becoming part of a new social environment, mostly because of the age difference. There is no need to dread the changes. You can be assured that there will be more adult students than you think. You won’t be surrounded only by 18 years olds, as you might think. As some statistics show, the number of 25+ students in colleges is increasing. Also, younger students are more preoccupied than you are when it comes to social situations.

The decision to go back to school as an adult is not an easy one. You will face many obstacles and difficulties along the way. The important thing is that you decided to prioritize your education. The age when you come to this decision isn’t relevant. As the saying goes, better late than never.