Is Going Back to School After 50 the New Normal?

You’re never too old to learn. And you’re never too old to go back to school. Many folks are going back to college after age 50. Enrolling in a degree course is a great way to create fantastic job opportunities in later life.

You may now be in a position to kickstart that career you always wanted to get and make a difference to yourself and others. If you are thinking about becoming a college student in your 50s — don’t worry, there are many more people like you in college.

Going to college is no longer only for high school graduates. Many non-traditional students go back to school to complete an unfinished degree, change career paths, or secure financial stability. With more and more opportunities for earning an online degree, there is no reason you can’t go back to college after 50.

This article is for you if you’re thinking about returning to college in your 50s or 60s. In this article, you’ll find compelling reasons to complete the application form and get your degree.

Going Back to College After 50

You may dismiss the idea of going to college in later life because of fear that you’ll be the oldest in your class. However, you may be surprised at the number of over-50s taking college degrees.

For example, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), nearly half a million undergraduate students are age 50 and over. Also, the NCES reports that the number of non-traditional students age 25 and over is around 7.5 million.

It’s also good to remember that as an over-50s non-traditional student, you have much to offer your younger fellow students. Typically, you have a more mature outlook on life and have gained much from the “university of life.” You also have a unique take on things that can enliven classroom discussions.

Because of the benefits that non-traditional students bring, many colleges offer grants and scholarships for adult learners. So, you never know — you may also qualify for financial aid to go to college.

Five Reasons Why

There are many reasons to pursue further education as a mature adult learner. Maybe you’re in a declining industry where jobs are becoming harder to find. Or it could be that you were a stay-at-home mom or dad, and the kids have now left home.

Some people go through life-changing experiences and need a new start in life. But whatever your situation, there are many reasons to return to school in your 50s.

Here are five reasons to go back to school, even though you are over 50 years old.

1. Change your career path

The most common reason to return to college after age 50 is to change careers. With changing economies and a shift to digital technologies, some jobs are no longer relevant.

Maybe the degree you got in the 1960s or 1970s doesn’t mean anything in today’s job market. Studying for a bachelor’s degree is usually the best way to stay relevant in the workforce.

2. Stay competitive in your industry

Non-traditional older students who go back to school stay competitive in their current employment. Many companies prefer to bring in fresh talent who have the latest, most current skills.

Unfortunately, this trend forces out many older workers. Getting a bachelor’s, master’s, or professional degree can show that you’re a valuable member of the workforce. In most cases, it’s better for your employer to stick with existing workers — if they have the right skills.

3. Improve your financial health

One of the most powerful reasons to go back to college at age 50 and over is to enjoy more financial benefits. Studying to get a degree while working may put in line for a lucrative promotion.

For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employees with a master’s degree earn around $32,000 a year more than those with an associate’s degree.

4. Achieve a lifelong goal

Going back to school when you are at least 50 years old can give you the chance to fulfill a long-held dream. Due to circumstances, you may not have had the opportunity to finish college after high school.

By returning to college, you may be able to finish what you started and graduate with a degree. You’ll also be an inspiration to your children, grandchildren, and younger classmates.

5. Going back to school has never been easier

Another excellent reason for the over-50s to go back to college is that there are more opportunities to learn. Most universities and colleges offer online degree programs.

These courses are either hybrid learning — a combination of online and classroom learning — or fully online courses. Top colleges also provide flexible education opportunities where you study at your own pace — ideal if you still work full-time.

Questions to Think About Before Returning to School After 50

Getting a degree as a non-traditional learner involves financial and time commitments. Therefore, it’s crucial to weigh up all factors before enrolling in a two-year or four-year degree program.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you are considering a return to college:

  • Is there a vibrant job market in the field? — Before deciding on the degree program, find out about job prospects. Check to see the job growth in the market and average earnings.
  • Can I afford to go back to school? — If you don’t have savings to cover the cost of education, you may be able to get a grant or scholarship. Be careful of taking out student loans as you don’t want to be burdened with debt.
  • Do I really need a degree to change careers? — You may be able to find a cheaper certificate program that gives you the skills you need to further your career. You could enroll in a low-cost training program and get a better paying job without taking out long-term loans.
  • Will my family support me? — Working full-time and studying for a degree will take up much of your free time. So, it’s vital to chat with family members about the impact your education could have on everyone.

Going Back to College After Age 50 — Is It for You?

The number of over-50s returning to college is increasing. Non-traditional adult students are becoming the new norm in the classroom, not the exceptions. Going back to college after you’ve turned 50 years old can create tremendous opportunities. Adult education can help you pursue a new or better career, stay competitive in the workforce, and improve your financial situation.

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