Going back to college at 35 may be intimidating, considering all the adult responsibilities you have in your daily life. Between balancing your work and household, it may feel as though college is no longer an option. The good news is that it’s never too late to go back to college, especially now that the school system has implemented various ways of accommodating to various students’ limitations and preferences.
Whether you’re wanting a career change, promotion, or a new set of skills, going to college at 35 has never been easier. In this article, you’ll learn why going back to school at 35 is an excellent decision, what the alternatives to college are, and how to go about this pursuit.
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Is 35 Too Old to Go Back to School?
No, 35 is not too old to go back to school. In fact, it could be the best time to go back to school. Now more than ever, campus programs offer flexible schedules and tuition payment options that make the burden of postsecondary education more bearable.
Why You Should Go Back to School at 35
- Higher pay. Statistics from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics show that higher education equals higher pay. Advancing your education helps you acquire new skills that open up plenty of career opportunities.
- Get a promotion. If you have been feeling stuck in your chosen career path because there is no career advancement, going back to school at 35 is a solid plan. It will upgrade your resume and help you climb up the company ladder.
- Start a new career. If you’re feeling unfulfilled in your career path, you’ve discovered a new passion, your work is challenging to your health, or you just want a career with better pay, a career switch is a great reason to go back to college at age 35.
- Acquire new professional skills. If you are looking to have a successful career, going back to school will help you acquire a wide variety of professional skills that provide an edge in the job market. College also helps you keep up with trends in your profession.
- To finish a previous degree. We all face challenging and disruptive life experiences that can make us drop out of school before we finish our college education. If that is your case, going back to college after dropping out will help you finish that degree.
How to Go Back to College at 35
Before going back to college you must consider what schedule you can manage and how much tuition you are willing to pay. This will help you structure your support system, determine the field of study you should enroll in, and decide what learning format is best for you.
1. Do Your Research
Find out what degree programs different schools offer, what schedules each program has, how much you will have to pay, and whether you would prefer online programs or alternatives to college. If you need help, you can consult a career counselor who will help you determine what your career goals are and recommend a solid plan for career development.
2. Confirm Transfer Credit Options
If you went to college before, you may be eligible to use your previous college coursework to transfer credits. Inquire if you can transfer college credits previously earned in a different capacity and whether you can use exam credits and work experience as college credits.
3. Take a Placement Test
Contact the college admissions office at your graduate school of choice to determine whether you need to take a placement test. A placement test judges your math, reading, and writing skills to ensure they meet the school’s requirements. If not, you will need to take a remedial test. For advanced degrees such as law degrees, you will need to take an entrance exam.
4. Apply for Financial Aid
Applying for financial aid is a crucial step in the college admissions process. Once admitted, you can start applying for financial aid to help cover the cost of tuition and fees. If you don’t qualify for financial aid, you can also consider applying for scholarships or low-interest student loans.
5. Register for Classes
After you’re done with the above you can then select your classes. Choose classes that excite you and are within your field of interest to avoid burnout early on in your studies.
Alternatives to College for 35-Year-Olds
If you are thinking of going back to college at 35, a four-year degree in a traditional classroom is not your only option. There are many alternatives to college that you should consider especially when you take into account all the responsibilities you have.
A coding bootcamp is a short and intense training program aimed at developing market-ready skills in the tech profession. Coding bootcamps are the best way for adult students who are thinking of either enhancing their skills further or breaking into a career in tech. With the right bootcamp, you can land a well-paying job without a degree.
Pros of Coding Bootcamps
- Faster job placement rates. Most coding bootcamps have job guarantee programs that give you the chance to get a high-paying entry-level job after graduation.
- More affordable. Coding bootcamps cost significantly less than traditional colleges. They have tuition assistance programs that can help ease the burden of tuition.
- Shorter. Both full-time and part-time students will benefit from coding bootcamps because the programs offered are significantly shorter than in a college. In just a few weeks to a few months, you leave the program job-ready.
Cons of Coding Bootcamps
- Limited to tech careers. If you are thinking of going back to college, a coding bootcamp will only be an option if you want a career in technology. Coding bootcamps can get you a job in data science, software development, and cyber security, among other tech jobs.
- The appeal for a degree. There are still some companies that require potential employees to have a degree. Postsecondary school diplomas are often seen as more reputable.
- Fast-paced schedule. The short time it takes to complete a coding bootcamp may be a disadvantage to you if you need a little longer to grasp a concept or have a full-time job. Depending on your schedule, you can opt for a full-time, part-time, or self-paced program.
Most colleges now have the option of online classes. If you do not want to be a full-time student, you will benefit more from online classes as they offer quality education in the comfort of your home. Since going back to college at age 35 may require you to juggle many responsibilities, online students will thrive more from this alternative option.
Pros of Online Classes
- Flexibility. Online classes allow you to learn from wherever you are. If you have a full-time job, among other adult responsibilities, you will need a flexible learning schedule as long as you meet your class requirements and complete your assignments.
- You can save on tuition. If you are looking to avoid student loan debt, taking an online class will be the best option for you. Not only do they cost less but some online programs are even offered for free.
- You won’t have to commute. If you decide to take online classes, you have the advantage of not commuting to your school of choice. You won’t have to spend hours in traffic and can allocate that time to other priorities.
Cons of Online Classes
- Your majors may be limited. You may be limited in the options you have as not all degree programs are eligible for online learning. Some require you to be enrolled in in-person classes.
- Limited in-person interactions. Unlike traditional college classes, online classes are limited as they lack physical interactions with both fellow students and college professors. If you thrive on physical interactions, this may not be the option for you.
- Limited networking opportunities. Depending on the classes that you take, online classes will limit the number of people you meet and therefore reduce the chances of networking with other professionals in your field.
If you consider your other options and decide you still want to have a traditional college experience, then a community college is the way to go. A community college is a two-year college that provides post-graduate education. You can graduate with an associate degree or a postgraduate certificate.
Pros of a Community College
- Fewer college costs. A community college is much more affordable than a university. If the tuition fee is still a burden for you, you can find out what financial assistance options are available.
- Shorter time. Community college students have the advantage of graduating earlier as the programs run for two years at most.
- Flexible schedules. Community college classes are fewer than those in universities, and some colleges even offer the option of evening classes. This means that if you have a full-time job you can plan accordingly.
Cons of a Community College
- Fewer course options. When compared to universities, community colleges have fewer course options to choose from. Your knowledge-earning opportunities may be limited as a result.
- Transferring credit. If you choose to enhance your education further, you may not be able to transfer your college credits, as some universities do not accept college credits from colleges.
- Student debt. Even though community college costs are significantly less, you may still find that you need some financial aid in paying for the tuition. Taking out student loans will put you in debt.
Should You Go Back to School at 35?
Yes, you should absolutely go back to school at 35. There are no age restrictions for going back to college or getting a second bachelor’s degree. Even if it feels overwhelming, give yourself time to adjust as you will soon learn what works well for you. Whether you decide on a four-year college, a vocational tech school, or online programs, acquiring additional education is a great stepping stone to a successful career.
Going Back to College at 35 FAQ
You know college is for you if you want to pursue it, it aligns with your professional, educational, or personal goals, and an alternative to college wouldn’t suffice.
You can get into a coding bootcamp by going to the website of the bootcamp you choose and filling out the application form. Depending on the school, it may require additional documents, tests, or other steps in the admission process.
A college refers to an institution offering undergraduate education while a university offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Though often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two.
A college semester is usually between 12 and 16 weeks. Academic years typically have two semesters, one in the spring and one in the fall. However, many institutions also have summer and winter semesters that are much shorter, usually lasting only a few weeks.
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