The expectation that you should attend college right after high school and then start a career and stick to it until retirement is steadily disappearing. These days, it’s common to see both new high school graduates and adults well into their twenties or even older. Whatever your reason, you shouldn’t feel any apprehensions about going back to college at 25.
More and more adult students are attending college as first-time students, going back for graduate degrees or second bachelor’s degrees, or realizing that the career they initially pursued isn’t for them. With ever-rising college costs, alternatives to college are available to those wanting to seek career growth opportunities. If you want to learn more about pursuing college at 25, continue reading.
Is 25 Too Old to Go Back to School?
No, 25 is not too old to go back to school. If you want to go back to college at age 25, you should. There’s no age limit to pursuing new educational or professional goals. In fact, according to National Center for Education Statistics, in the fall of 2019, nearly a third of all post-secondary education students were 25 or older.
Why You Should Go Back to School at 25
- Career Growth. Sometimes, achieving your career goals requires you to go back to school to meet the requirements for a job or promotion. While life experience is valuable, going back to college is often the only way to qualify for various careers.
- Change of Interests. As we get older and evolve, so do our interests. It isn’t rare for people to realize that they want to pursue new goals. It’s completely normal to go back to college if you’ve developed an interest in a new subject and feel that studying it in a college environment will be best.
- New Opportunities. For a variety of reasons, not everyone gets the opportunity to finish college right after getting their high school diploma. Sometimes, the right opportunity to finish your college education presents itself later in life, and having previous experience with college can help you pass your classes easier than on your first go around.
- You Know Better What You Want. Oftentimes, people leave high school not knowing what they want to do with their life or what they should study in college. If you choose to study a subject and later find yourself wishing you had made a different choice, you can go back to college. Again, previous experience with the college will be a benefit to you.
- Self-Improvement. Getting a college degree can give you access to career doors that are not open to those who don’t have degrees. Going to graduate school can also open you up to many opportunities to land higher-paid positions. According to USNews, getting a master’s degree can improve your salary by an average of 30 percent.
How to Go Back to College at 25
If you’re considering going back to college at 25, there are a few things you should take into consideration to help you transition. Whether you want to attend in person or take online courses, you want to set yourself up for success, and having a good action plan goes a long way. Having a sense of direction will help you tremendously when attending college in your adult life.
1. Pick a Field of Study
The first step in obtaining a college degree is figuring out what your interests are and what you want your future to look like, as this will determine how you spend the next few years of your life. Giving it careful consideration is essential. Think about what you enjoy doing and what your ideal career path is, then figure out if that’ll require you to go back to college.
2. Consider Your Options
Everyone has different factors to consider when it comes to getting a college education. It’s important to figure out which options align with your financial situation. If you require financial aid, you’ll want to be sure the school you attend offers flexible payment plans or financial assistance. You’ll also need to decide whether you want to study full-time or part-time.
3. Choose a Degree Program
Once you’ve decided what area of study you’re interested in pursuing and which college you can attend, it’s time to choose a degree program. Already having a good idea of the direction you want to take will make this step of the process easier.
4. Apply to Your Colleges of Choice
This is the most important step in turning your college dreams into a reality. By this point, you should have considered all your options and narrowed them down to a shortlist of schools you want to apply to. You can then start your college application process and do your best to impress college admissions officers.
5. Talk to an Academic Advisor
Once you’ve picked a school, speak with an academic advisor. The job of an academic advisor is to help you plan your college future, assist you in selecting your major and a potential minor, and point you in the direction of all the necessary resources you’ll need to move forward.
Alternatives to College for 25-Year-Olds
Becoming an adult student may seem daunting. A traditional college experience isn’t the right fit for everyone, and choosing a different path may be a more feasible option. Oftentimes, the increasing costs of college degrees are a deterrent to those without financial assistance. Alternatives can be considered to avoid student loan debt.
Vocational schools only take one or two years to complete and are focused primarily on training you for specific jobs. This differs from college degree programs, which offer a broader and more extensive type of education that can usually be used in various career paths. Through vocational schooling, you complete an intensive program that can get started on your career path sooner.
Pros of Vocational School
- Faster. Vocational schooling takes half the time a college degree takes to complete, allowing you to get started on your career path sooner.
- Less Expensive. Because you spend less time completing vocational schooling, it costs significantly less than the amount it costs to obtain a college degree.
- Career-Focused Skills. In a vocational school, you complete an intensive program that teaches you applicable skills to help you in your specific career field.
Cons of Vocational School
- Limited Career Opportunities. Because of the aforementioned career-relevant training, attending a vocational school limits the work you will be qualified to do.
- Fewer Financial Aid Opportunities. While college provides you with numerous options for financial aid and tuition assistance programs, there are fewer private or federal student loans available for those attending vocational schools.
- Lower Pay. Many of the positions available to vocational school students pay less than those available to college graduates.
Many people who don’t attend traditional universities choose to attend community colleges as an alternative. Just like attending a vocational school, going to community college will cost you less money and take less time to complete. It’s a faster and less expensive option that still provides some of the benefits of attending a traditional college.
Pros of Community College
- Smaller Classes. Smaller classes help students and professors develop better relationships. This helps professors to tailor their teaching approach accordingly and give students more confidence to engage and participate in the classroom.
- Flexible Schedule. If you are an adult student with a full-time job, community college allows you to work while getting your education thanks to the lighter workload and option to take night classes.
- Transitional Studies. If you’re unsure about going to a full, four-year college, community college gives you the chance to earn college credits while you decide on which college options are right for you. Many community colleges also offer credit transfer options.
Cons of Community College
- College Experience. If part of the appeal of higher education is the social aspect of campus life and a college environment, community college may not be for you, as it’s quite different to a university.
- Lack of Options. The basic courses offered by community colleges provide fewer options when it comes to available majors and academic programs.
- Employer Perception. Community colleges award students with associate degrees once they’ve completed their degree programs. Since an associate degree is not as advanced as a bachelor’s degree, employers prefer university graduates over community college graduates.
Online Programs and Coding Bootcamps
As the name suggests, online courses are delivered to students over the Internet. Coding bootcamps are an alternative to traditional colleges that provide an intensive program over a short period of time. Bootcamps allow you to learn the technical and computer skills necessary to get a head start for a career in the tech industry.
Pros of Online Programs and Coding Bootcamps
- Self-Paced. One of the biggest advantages of online programs is that they offer you the ability to learn at your own pace. This means that you can have more time to learn and get comfortable with the theories and concepts you’re being taught.
- Less Costly. Like the other non-traditional higher education options, bootcamps are less costly than traditional colleges.
- Convenient. Bootcamps offer a lot of flexibility, which is especially ideal for working professionals. For students going back to school at age 25, this means not having to dramatically change their work and life schedules to accommodate school.
Cons of online programs
- Tech Savviness. In order to successfully use digital learning platforms, you need to have a decent knowledge of computers and other technology. Not being comfortable using technology may cause setbacks.
- Self-Discipline. While the convenience of learning at your own pace is a major advantage, it can also be the downfall for anyone who lacks time-management skills or self-discipline.
- Limited Resources. On-campus learning typically comes with access to numerous resources, such as libraries, and the ability to receive face-to-face assistance and guidance during office hours. This is much more limited for bootcamp students.
Should You Go Back to School at 25?
Yes, you should go back to school at 25. You have more real-life experience at that age and may have more money to pay for college classes. You may have a better idea of your ideal career field or want to change your current career altogether. Whatever the reason, it’s never too late to go back to school.
Going Back to College at 25 FAQ
The best college programs vary based on your own interests. Some of the most popular majors are computer science, education, English, psychology, and sociology.
According to Statista, 39 percent of people aged 25 to 34 graduate with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Whether you study part-time or full-time is entirely dependent on how much time you can afford to dedicate to your studies. Typically, people with jobs and other similar responsibilities should study part-time.
Students can receive federal student loans as long as they meet certain requirements. Alternatively, you can apply for a private student loan.
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