Returning to college after a long absence can be a daunting task, especially if you’re going back as an adult. But going back to college at 35 – or any age – is entirely possible and can even open up exciting opportunities for your future.
Being older than most of your classmates may feel intimidating, but it also gives you the advantage of life experience and maturity that younger students don’t have yet. It can also give you the motivation to make sure that going back to school pays off in terms of career advancement, more money, and achieving personal goals.
In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits and challenges associated with going back to college at 35 years old so you can decide if it’s right for you.
We will talk about how best to prepare yourself for success in higher education when returning later in life as well as strategies for making sure that your time spent studying is worthwhile both personally and professionally.
Is It Too Late to Go Back to College at 35?
It is not too late to go back to school at the age of 35 if you have a solid reason for this important move.
Are you not earning as much as you want to? Are you burnt out from uninspiring work? If so, 35 is a great age to turn things around and get what you want out of your professional life.
In fact, not following this path despite having compelling reasons to do so will almost definitely result in regret later in life.
However, we understand that there may be some limiting factors in a person’s life that may make this bold career move challenging or sometimes even impossible.
Nevertheless, if you are only concerned about trivial things like looking too old for college or not fitting in, your concerns are understandable, yet clearly ungrounded.
On the contrary, going back to school at 35 can actually be an advantage because you have the wisdom and life experience that younger students may not have yet.
Think about this: if you go back at the age of 35, you will be done with school at the age of 40 at the latest (unless you are enrolled in a longer PhD program), which is a very reasonable age to be advancing in your career or even starting anew.
Reasons for Going Back to College at 35
Why do people even consider going back to college at 35? What are their motivations?
As it turns out, there are several specific reasons why you may decide to go back to school later in life.
Reason #1: Finish a Degree
Some people start their college degrees early in life, but then decide to drop out or pause their education due to some circumstances like going to work or having a family.
As a result, they leave their degree unfinished, but later decide to go back and finish their education. This is a smart move that can bring rewarding returns in the long run.
Reason #2: Switch Careers
Another reason to return to school is to change career direction and start a new career. This is often the case for people who come to have aversion to their current occupation and desire to explore a new path.
An example to this could be an accountant who discovers a new passion for computer science and decides to switch careers to programming.
Reason #3: Get a Promotion
Sometimes, returning to school can help you secure a better job or a promotion at your current job. Some companies may require their employees to have a degree or a certain level of education to be promoted.
In this case, going back to college at 35 can provide you with the necessary skill upgrades and qualifications.
Reason #4: Get an Advanced Degree
People may also consider returning to college at 35 in order to acquire an advanced degree.
For instance, if you have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, you may decide to enroll in a master’s program or even a PhD program to reach the highest level of expertise and success in the field in order to open doors for higher salaries and better jobs.
Advantages of Going Back to College at 35
Going back to school at 35 can prove to be an excellent decision. Here are some of the top benefits you can expect:
- You are more responsible and diligent: By the age of 35, you are more likely to be able to commit to and complete a college degree as compared to younger students who may still lack the necessary maturity and dedication.
- Higher salary potential: With a higher education, you can get more job options with higher salaries. In 2020, the median weekly salary of those who held a bachelor’s degree was $1,305 while individuals with only a high school diploma earned an average of just $781 per week, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Improved professional network: As an older student, you can use your existing network of professionals and contacts to get informed career advice and build connections.
- Increased job satisfaction: With an updated education, you can find jobs you truly enjoy and excel at.
- Long-term security: You become more attractive to employers and have a better chance to grow professionally in the long run.
- Improved skills: Going back to school is an opportunity to acquire new skills and stay ahead of the competition.
Going back to school at 35 can be difficult, but the rewards you reap will make it worth all the effort. So, if you’re feeling the urge to continue your education and pursue a new career, don’t hesitate—go for it!
Cons of going back to college at 35
While there are many advantages to returning to school, there are also some drawbacks that you should be aware of.
- Time and energy commitment: Going back to college usually requires a lot of time and energy, especially if you’re already juggling other responsibilities.
- Financial burden: College isn’t cheap and can take a toll on your budget.
- Age gap: You may feel like you don’t fit in with the younger students and struggle to relate to them.
- Age bias post-graduation: There are some employers who may look down upon candidates with age gaps in their resumes, which means you may have a harder time finding a job after graduation.
Despite the challenges, finishing a college degree at 35 or older can open up many new doors and provide you with a wealth of opportunities. It’s important to weigh both the pros and cons before making a decision and plan ahead for success.
Other Commitments that May Influence Whether It’s a Good Idea to Go Back to College at 35
If you are considering going back to college at 35, it is important that you evaluate your current commitments and obligations. These may include the following:
Your family situation can have a huge impact on whether or not going back to college is the right decision for you. Do you have young children who need your attention? Are you planning a baby with your spouse? Going back to school can be difficult if you have responsibilities at home.
Nevertheless, even in the most complicated family situations, it is usually possible to make college work if you are willing to put in the effort and make the necessary adjustments.
It’s important to consider your financial situation before deciding whether or not going back to college at 35 is the right choice for you. Can you afford to pay for tuition and additional costs such as books, supplies, and other fees? Do you have a full-time job that will help cover the costs?
These are all important factors that you should take into account before pursuing a college degree. Remember, there are many financial aid options available, such as scholarships and student loans, so don’t be discouraged if you are worried about the costs.
If you are currently employed, you may be concerned about how going back to college will affect your job. You should talk to your employer about your plans to ensure that you understand their expectations and policies.
In some cases, employers may be willing to offer flexible hours or reduced workloads so that you can pursue an education. If this is not an option for you, it’s also possible to consider online or self-paced degree programs that you can pursue after work hours.
Ultimately, the decision to go back to college at 35 should be based on a variety of factors, such as your family situation, financial resources, and job responsibilities.
Consider all of these elements carefully before making a decision—it’s important to make sure that you’re making the right choice for you.
Options of How to Go Back to College When You Are 35
When you make the decision to go back to college at age 35 or older, there are several different ways that you can pursue your educational goals.
If you would like to rip the band-aid off and get done with it as quickly as possible, full-time degree programs are the most straightforward option. These are the traditional route that most college students take, and it can be a good choice if you have the time and resources to commit.
If you have work or family commitments that don’t allow you to pursue a degree full-time, you can choose to take classes part-time. This is a great option if you need more flexibility in your schedule, as it allows you to take classes at your own pace.
If you’re looking for even more flexibility, online degree programs are a great option. These programs allow you to take classes from the comfort of your own home and can be tailored to fit your lifestyle.
4. Accelerated degree
Accelerated degree programs are designed to help you get your degree as quickly as possible. These often involve intensive classes and condensed semesters, so they are best suited to those who don’t have a lot of other commitments.
While not a degree program, a bootcamp can be a great way to quickly learn the skills needed for a particular job. Bootcamps are often short-term programs that focus on teaching students skills that are in high demand, such as web development, UI/UX design, or cyber security.
No matter what option you choose, going back to college at 35 can help you advance your career and open up new opportunities. So, if you’re ready to take the plunge and pursue an education, don’t let your age hold you back. With the right motivation and dedication, you can make your dreams a reality!
Do Colleges Admit Older Applicants?
Many colleges are open to accepting applicants of any age, so you should not feel discouraged if you’re looking to attend college at 35 or older. In fact, many colleges have special programs or initiatives specifically tailored to adults who are planning on returning to college later in life.
Additionally, some colleges may even offer special programs or discounts to older applicants. These can include things like reduced tuition rates, flexible schedules, and other incentives that can make attending college more affordable.
How to Pay for Your College Education?
Going back to college is a significant financial commitment. There are several ways you can pay for your university education.
By the age of 35, there is a good chance you may have collected some savings that you can use to pay for college. Many people choose to take out loans, but if you have the financial ability to pay through savings, this is the best option.
2. Scholarships & Grants
Scholarships and grants are great options for financing your education, as they don’t need to be paid back. There are numerous scholarship and grant opportunities out there, and some of them are even tailored for students returning to college later in life.
3. Employer sponsorship
If you’re planning to return to college in order to advance your career, it may be worth reaching out to your employer about sponsoring your education. Many employers will be willing to reimburse part or all of your tuition costs if they believe that you’re furthering your professional development.
Taking out a loan is often the most common way people pay for their college education. There are numerous types of loans available, so it’s important to do your research and understand the terms before committing to one.
How to Juggle Life and Studying as a 35-Year-Old Student
Going back to college at 35 can be overwhelming and daunting. Balancing a job, family commitments, and studying for classes can be challenging, but it isn’t impossible. Here are some tips for how to juggle life and studying as a 35-year-old student:
- Manage time – Create a weekly schedule that fits around your family and work commitments, and stick to it.
- Budget – Make sure you budget for tuition, books, and other expenses associated with college.
- Prioritize – Figure out which tasks are most important and prioritize your time accordingly.
- Seek help – Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks or ask for help from family and friends when needed.
- Take breaks – Take regular breaks from studying to avoid burnout, even when you have overwhelmingly many responsibilities and tasks.
- Stay organized – Make sure to stay on top of assignments and deadlines.
Going back to college at 35 can be a rewarding and life-changing experience. With the right strategies, you can make it work!
Going back to college at 35 can be a difficult prospect, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right preparation and determination, going back to school can be incredibly rewarding and provide a pathway for career advancement.
Embrace the challenges that come with going back to college, set clear goals, and make the most of your time in school. You will be rewarded for your hard work, dedication, and perseverance along the way.
With proper planning and a positive attitude, going back to college at 35 can be the best decision you ever make. Good luck!
Elmar Mammadov is a software developer, tech startup founder, and computer science career specialist. He is the founder of CS Careerline and a true career changer who has previously pursued careers in medicine and neuroscience.
Due to his interest in programming and years of past personal experience in coding, he decided to break into the tech industry by attending a Master’s in Computer Science for career changers at University of Pennsylvania. Elmar passionately writes and coaches about breaking into the tech industry and computer science in general.