Adult Learners

Advantages of Returning to School

Is it time for you to return to school?

If your goal is to become a more informed citizen, critical thinker or well-rounded person, a college education can help you achieve your goal. Many adults, however, return to school because they want to change their lives, because an event has already changed their lives or because they need new skills to get the job they want.

Questions to think about

Whatever your reasons for returning to school, talk it over with those affected by your decision.

  • Do you have the support of your family?
  • If you're working, will more education improve your chances for promotion?
  • Will your employer provide tuition assistance?
  • Can you balance family, work, school and other responsibilities?
  • Can you take classes when your schedule permits, or can your schedule be adjusted?
  • How competitive is the job market where you live or want to live?
  • Can you devote the time and energy you need to complete the program of study?

Most adult students have responsibilities not only to their education but also to their family and employer. Share your plans and expectations with others. Ask them to share their concerns with you. Communication can help you balance these responsibilities.

Are you too old to go back to school?

Adults who return to the classroom are often concerned about their ability to do well in courses. This feeling is normal, so give yourself time to adjust. Many adult students actually do better in school because they're more committed to attending classes, learning as much as possible and achieving their educational and career goals.

Scheduling options

You can go to school full-time or part-time. If you can only take evening and weekend classes, online courses and correspondence courses, can you take enough hours to be a full-time student? Some schools advise students who work more than 20 or 30 hours per week not to enroll for more than 6 or 9 credit hours a semester.

Colleges that hold classes on a semester schedule usually consider 12 credit hours full-time for undergraduate students. Nine hours is generally considered full-time for graduate students. How much time you can spend studying is another consideration. Generally, you should allow six hours of study each week for each three-credit-hour course. You may want to take one class to see how you do first.

Can you pay for your courses? Part-time students are eligible for fewer sources of financial aid than full-timers.

School support designed for you

Many schools have special services for adult students. The school's catalog should tell you what services are available and which office to contact for each service. Most schools have a financial aid office that can help you complete financial aid forms and will offer you a financial aid package of grants, loans, work-study and/or scholarships based on your need.