College is for everyone, and the average age people start earning their degree is changing. Although there are more adults earning degrees than ever, some people are still embarrassed about going back to college as an adult. Maybe you dropped out, traveled or started a family before going to school. Whatever the reason, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and make your life exactly what you want it to be.
Halfway through your 20s, it’s natural to start thinking more seriously about the future. You may fall into a quarter-life crisis as you realize you’re closing in on 30 and still haven’t achieved everything you thought you were supposed to. College is different for 25-year-olds over teenagers.
Although you aren’t much older than the average graduating senior, it’s still normal to feel a bit out of place. Here are a few strategies you can use to help you get back in the learning groove and make the most out of your college life.
Identify Your Needs
What do you need most from college? Adult learners often need greater flexibility and customization than teens who are transitioning directly from high school. Research your options and consider what type of learning would work best for you and your current life. Online education is becoming increasingly popular as it gives you the ability to work and raise a family while earning your degree. Even if you’re single, you’ll likely need a more flexible schedule as a 25-year-old to ensure the school doesn’t interfere with the rest of your responsibilities.
Plan Your Classes Ahead of Time
You may take out private student loans so you can attend college full-time without having to worry about holding down a job. For many, this is a great option along with scholarships as it gives you more financial freedom and time to truly dedicate yourself to your studies. However, plenty of adults also still have jobs when they return to school. If this is the case for you, make sure that you’re way ahead of the game when it comes to scheduling courses. Talk to your academic advisor about each course’s workload and class times. Make sure that you can reasonably study and perform well in each class along with your job. The earlier you plan, the easier it is to create a flexible schedule that works for you.
Choose a Marketable Degree
You might worry whether going back to college is worth it if you already have a job. Know that earning a college education increases your income potential drastically; people with degrees are more likely to be promoted at their existing jobs and have a greater opportunity for professional growth. One thing to consider, though, is what your major can do for you. Tuition is expensive, and student loans are a financial commitment that you can easily spend 10 or more years repaying. That’s not a bad thing so long as you earn a degree that essentially pays for itself. Make sure you choose a major that will give you the greatest opportunities going forward. If you want to study your passions in college but don’t intend to work in the field, save them for electives. Art, history, English, and theater are wonderful, but they aren’t as valuable in today’s workforce.
Use Student Services
There are numerous resources on campus and online you can and should utilize. The financial advisors can help you figure out how to cover the cost of tuition; the career department can help you build a strong resume, find internships and even connect you with a mentor. Your academic advisor will support you throughout your entire college career, and you should work closely with them to shape your experience into something meaningful.