College campuses are diverse. Newly minted high school graduates embarking on the next stage of their studies might dominate college campuses, but many established professionals who have long since graduated from high school are also among the student bodies at universities across the globe.
The National Center for Education Statistics says that one in five Americans enrolled in undergraduate higher education is at least 30 years old.
The changing face of higher education should be a comfort to adults who may have been apprehensive about heading back to school. Adults considering a return to school should not allow age to deter them from enrolling. Many people now complete degrees later in life, while others return to school to study subjects they did not study during their first go-rounds as college students.
Finding the right fit in regard to a college is different for adults than it is students right out of high school. Responsibilities to family and employers complicate the decision about where to go to school. The following tips can help adults as they decide where to continue their educations.
• Choose a school that meets your needs. Look for schools that can accommodate priorities other than academics, such as family and work. Many schools now offer flexible schedules and online classes. Check out schools with strong reputations for working with adult learners.
• Sit down with a college counselor. If you’ve been in college before, pull your transcripts and bring any information about coursework, credits and life experience. This way you can be credited for what you have already accomplished. Counselors can serve as invaluable resources as you navigate a return to the classroom.
• Brush up on the skills required of successful students. If you’ve been out of school for awhile, brush up on your study skills, note-taking, annotating, and other skills that can serve you well in an academic environment.
• Speak with your employer. Many employers support employees who want to return to school, especially when employees will be gaining skills that are applicable to their existing careers. Some employees may even help their employers finance their educations. According to Matthew Reed, the vice president for learning at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, N.J., roughly 90 percent of midsize or large employers offer some kind of tuition reimbursement. Even when that’s not available, some employers may have an arrangement with certain schools that provide discounts to their workers, says Reed.
Adults returning to school is becoming increasingly common. Planning and making use of resources at your disposal can help you navigate the process of returning to school as an adult.