Can You Return to School 30+ Years Later? – #UndergraduateAdults

Graduation is this month. Doesn’t this remind you of some of your goals you had made when you graduated all those years ago? What was that, 30+ years ago?

Why didn’t you return to school as you had planned?

I can think of at least 10 reasons why you didn’t go to college after graduating from high school.

1. You couldn’t afford it

Since I took the plunge back into school and being a responsible adult, I learned that it isn’t as unaffordable as you would think. Yes, a higher education can put you deep in debt. You can still do it, though, as long as you are smart about it.

File for the Pell Grant and any financial assistance you can qualify for. This is where learning to be disciplined with your budget comes in handy. Pay those car loans and credit card payments down and try not to take on any more debt other than the student loans. You are investing in you and your education. Treat yourself as though your life is your business. Of course, this is all a risk, life is about risks.

We take a risk when we have a relationship. There are risks when we change jobs. There are risks when we have children.

2. You wanted to take a break from school

Okay, you took your break from school. That was how many years ago? Don’t you think it is time to get serious about your life and career?

I was once told that if one didn’t return to school within two years after graduating from high school, one would never go back to school. The odds were against a higher education for every year you didn’t return.

That doesn’t have to be true. I think this statement, in general, is a cop-out, and after a while, you begin to believe those who said this to you were right. This is where we start not to believing in ourselves.

3. Your family didn’t encourage your higher education. It wasn’t important to them so you felt it wasn’t important to you.

I get it. This happened to me. One year in high school, I decided to see what would happen if I didn’t pass a class, just for the sake of seeing what my parents would say. Talk about reverse psychology. I can quote them to this day – “It’s Alright, girls aren’t supposed to do well in school anyways.”

My reaction was disbelief. WTF! How could they believe that gender made all the difference when it came to an education? When it came time for me to seek a college degree, they kept saying things like, “we can’t afford that.” They tried to encourage me to go to a state college, but couldn’t sell me on the idea, because they felt that girls weren’t supposed to do well in school.

My mother still thought this way. When I recently announced that 30+ years later I was getting my college degree, she was more concerned as to whether the program I was enrolling in at a local college was legitimate. She was still questioning my intelligence after all these years.

4. No motivation

I can see this happening too. You found a job you liked right out of high school. All your motivation for continuing your education has been dashed aside because you don’t need a higher education to perform your job. This goes on for years until a time comes when you wonder why you aren’t being given any more raises. You also aren’t climbing the corporate ladder.

Your motivation returns when you go to work one day and learn that you have been removed from your position overnight. Layoffs are hard to take, especially when you have gone out of your way to be the best worker you could be. 30+ years later, almost all the jobs posted are looking for those who all have a higher education. Middle-class factory workers are a thing of the past.

5. You thought you didn’t need a higher education

This can be seen as equal to lack of motivation. Your job doesn’t require a higher education to perform the task correctly. Then the job market changes and you wish you had taken the steps all those years ago.

6. There was no time – life happens.

You get married and create a family. While working a forty hour a week job and add the family life to the pile and your time has become limited. Drive the kids to school, go to work, pick kids up from soccer practice, cook dinner, and help the kids with their homework. This leaves no time for you and your education.

If you have a supportive partner, then they will see that a higher education not only benefits you, it benefits the entire family with the increased chance of securing a higher paying job.

7. You became a single parent.

Yes, this can be a hard time to go back to school. There is help and support for returning to school. State grants most times are available to help pay for the cost to return to school. Your education doesn’t just benefit you and your children; it benefits your state government programs. With a higher education, you can acquire a higher paying wage, this can lower the burden on the state funds for low-income families.

8. You were a caregiver for a sibling or an ailing parent.

I can see a problem here. But your life won’t remain this way forever. If you can’t find the time to return to school, consider taking online classes. You would then be able to stay at home as a caregiver. I’m sure you aren’t needed to sit by their side 24/7. Online courses allow you to do the school work at your own pace and to keep your own hours.

9. Didn’t know what you wanted for a career.

This happens to everyone. First, you need to know what you want in life and how you want to live. Read some books on careers and discovering what is best for you. I recommend a few good books to read to learn more about yourself and matching a career to your personality and lifestyle.

10.You didn’t finish high school.

This doesn’t mean you have to give up. I know it is hard to get that GED. Then take the online high school courses. This is probably a much easier way to get your diploma. Some states will even cover the cost of the online classes. They want to see everyone with a high school diploma. Don’t give up on yourself, there is still a great chance you can succeed in life.


2 thoughts on “Can You Return to School 30+ Years Later? – #UndergraduateAdults

  1. I went to college right out of high school; but then I had some problems, and dropped out. After a nine-year wanderjahr, I returned and got a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a school where the undergraduate student population is overwhelmingly immediately post-high school. It was sometimes weird being the one “old guy” in the classroom, sometimes older than the professor. But it was also very different from going to college as a late-teen/early-twenties guy, because I had a seriousness toward my work and an interest in the subjects that no other student manifested, as focused as they were upon sex and beer and football and just being young and away from home for the first time. My professors adored me for the work that I did, for the attention that I paid, sometimes even just for doing the damned homework! Going to college as an actual “grown up” (not just a legal adult) is very different from what you may think of as the young kids’ college experience, and has a much greater potential for reward. If you didn’t go as a kid, but are starting to think about it now, then by all means go back to school – you will be surprised by how much better at it you will be than you think.


    1. Paul,
      You are right about the amount of focus I on my school work now that I am a 50+ age student. I’m not taking the traditional classes where one sits in a room with a bunch of other students. I’m getting the online experience, which I rather like. I find it is much more convenient for me while I work a day job and try to find time to write.


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