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Going Back to School at 40-plus

By on September 12, 2018
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Returning to school as an adult can be daunting—but you’re in good company. 

Approximately 43% of students are expected to be considered “adult students” by 2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And well over half a million of those are over 50. 

Going back to school is a great way to improve your employment prospects or change careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs that require a college diploma tend to pay more, offer steadier employment, and need more people

Here’s what to keep in mind if you’re thinking about becoming an adult learner, or “nontraditional student.”

  1. Get credit where credit is due. You may be able to get academic credit for jobs you’ve held and other life experience, so finishing a degree may not be as time consuming as you expect. Check out the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning for more information. At Bay State, our Career Services department works closely with students to understand the best options for their unique needs. 
  2. Evening classes are a good option for adult students. Nontraditional students can take advantage of nontraditional class options! Not ready to enroll immediately in a full-time daytime program? Then consider night, online or hybrid classes. At Bay State College, many adult learners take advantage of our evening programs at both our Boston campus and our Taunton location. Bay State online classes are available for a variety of majors, including criminal justice, finance, business administration and marketing.   
  3. You’re already ahead. According to professor Margaret Gatz, as quoted in The Atlantic, older students tend to have a greater sense of focus and purpose, and take greater advantage of the opportunities.
  4. You understand the big picture. Gatz suggests that older students should focus on their ability to understand the topic rather than memorization. Middle-aged learners tend to do well with grasping the greater meaning of subjects.
  5. Test yourself. If your immediate recall isn’t what you wish it were—not unlikely given all the other things in your life you need to focus on—help yourself by taking practice tests and asking friends and family to quiz you. 
  6. Stay the course. While there is no question that going to college as an adult can be tough, it also holds a lot of potential for those who stick it out. A college degree—plus the network of support and contacts that college provides—gives you the chance to earn more money in a better job, and to increase your job satisfaction. Plus, there are many resources available to help you manage the challenges of being an adult learner.
  7. Review your options beyond academics. As an adult student, you have unique needs compared to younger students. Be sure to assess schools for how they support older students. Check out their student services how they support working learners. Bay State Career Services prides itself on offering individualized and flexible support and career coaching.

With a wide variety of night and online classes in many different fields, Bay State College can give you the chance to realize your dreams no matter what your age.