Adult college students are the new normal.
Many people think of the average college student as someone between the ages of 18 and 22, but now older college students aged 25 and up are becoming more typical. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of fall 2019, there were about 7.9 million people aged 25 or older enrolled in a college or university. That amounts to approximately 40% of the overall student population in higher education.
Adults returning to college can face some unique challenges, but the rewards are often worth it. And a suitable college will offer comprehensive support services to assist you in managing your various obligations and succeed in your classes.
Why should you consider going back to school as an adult?
Going back to school at 30, 40, 50 or above is often driven by one of several motivations. Some want to earn a college degree so they can continue to grow in their current career. Others are looking for the training and knowledge they need to pursue an entirely different path. Individuals in the latter category may be driven by their desire to find a more meaningful degree in important areas such as health care, sustainable leadership, nonprofit management and more.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median weekly earnings figure for those with a bachelor’s degree was $1,305. That’s $428 higher than individuals who had some college credit but no degree. It was also $524 more than the total earned by those with a high school diploma and no college credit.
What about going back to school for an advanced degree?
Many returning students are interested in building on their educational experience and professional accomplishments to earn a master’s degree, a graduate certificate or a doctoral degree.
The BLS reports that on average, those with a master’s degree earned $1,545 per week, which is $240 more than the rate for bachelor’s degree holders.
If you want to continue working in your current field and you’d like to remain at the same organization, talk with your supervisor to develop a plan for your education. They may be able to support your efforts by adjusting your workload or schedule as well as assist you in selecting a major that will be most beneficial for your professional growth.
You may also find that you’re interested in working for a different employer in the future, but in a similar field. If this is the case, tap into your existing network to see if you can discuss your academic plans with colleagues who work elsewhere. They may be able to provide insight to determine which major is right for you.