Going Back to School at 30 [2023 Guide]

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If you want to advance your career or learn more about issues that impact you or our world, going back to school at 30 can help you achieve these goals. You are never too old to learn. You may even enjoy and appreciate learning more than you did when you were younger.

Going Back to School at 30

Whether you weren’t ready for college, weren’t sure you would succeed, or couldn’t afford higher education, it’s never too late to continue your academic journey.

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Most universities offer support services, online classes, financial aid, and other necessities to help you take this next step.

How to Go Back to School at 30

Many people take stock of their lives as they approach their third decade and consider going back to school at 30.

You may be reflecting on what you want to do in your next phase of life as well. If you are searching for more challenges, wider horizons, and more money, college may very well be the answer.

Going back to school can be rewarding.

college student in library

It may be very rewarding to continue or start college at 30. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employees with bachelors degrees earn median annual wages of $77,920, and those with high school diplomas earn an average of $39,070. What could you do with an extra $38,000+ each year?

In addition to monetary rewards, a college degree program gives you the chance to learn about things you’re interested in. Whether you have a passion for technology, parenting, the environment, creative arts, health care, or any of hundreds of other subjects, college can help you advance your knowledge in almost any area.

You are not alone in going back to school.

Many people aren’t ready for college or interested in college when they are younger. If this describes you, you are not alone. College classes are filled with students who are older, wiser, and ready to learn.

If you are nervous about returning to college after a long absence, there are many student support services that can help you return to learning mode. Seminars and workshops can also help those who never attended or have decided to return.

You may advance your knowledge and skills.

college students with professor in class

Younger students often enter college uncertain about what might interest them. As a student in your 30s, on the other hand, you may have more life experiences that have likely taught you what you would like to study.

College not only allows you to specialize but also reinforces the basics. College may strengthen your writing, reasoning, and calculating as well as your analytical and communication skills. Your core classes will normally fill in any gaps.

You may study subjects like English, critical thinking, scientific inquiry, arts, humanities, and the social sciences.

You may maintain your busy life.

If you’re wondering how to go back to school at 25 or older with your current schedule, there are ways to attend college and still maintain your busy life.

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Many universities understand the demands on your life and offer various schedules that allow you to balance education with other responsibilities. Many undergraduate degree programs also offer online classes that can be taken at your convenience.

You can start your journey with these questions.

So, what should you do next? Here are a few questions that can help ease your journey to higher education. You can add others, but these can get you started:

  1. What do you want to study? Once you have narrowed your interest, you can find out what colleges offer degrees in your desired subject area.
  2. Do you want to go in person or online? It can help to figure out how much time you can realistically spend in class each week and how many hours you will need to devote to reading and required coursework. You can then research what colleges have schedules and classes that match your desires.
  3. How much can you afford to pay? You may visit the federal government’s Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) website to learn how to apply for financial aid. You can also check out the financial aid websites of all the colleges you might want to attend, or you can call them, too. Even some employers offer tuition assistance.
  4. Where should you apply? Once you have made some basic decisions, you may check out the websites of colleges you might want to attend. You may want to ensure the university you are considering is accredited. Websites often describe all possible majors, curriculum, classes, and everything you want to know about academic and student life.
  5. What are the admissions requirements? Each college requires certain things, such as high school transcripts, recommendations, or personal essays. You may want to read these carefully to make sure you’re prepared.

Colleges can often send you additional information and answer your questions. They are used to working with prospective students and can fill you in on everything you want to know. They understand that you might be unsure or overwhelmed, and they are there to support you.

Colleges want you to succeed. Why not start or restart the rewarding journey to higher education? You may be glad you did.

Why Should I Consider Going Back to School at 30?

college students studying together in library

There are as many answers to this question as there are people reading this article. You know yourself better than anyone else could, so this is a good time to take stock of where you are now and where you want to be in the future.

Here are just a few reasons why you may consider going back to school in your 30s or even going back to school in your 40s:

  1. You want a career change from your current job into a meaningful career path: If you are bored, frustrated, or just plain stuck in a boring, unsatisfying job and you long for a career change into something that excites and challenges you, a college degree may open a career path that is currently closed.
  2. You want to make more money: There is no question that people with bachelor’s degrees start their earning potential at median monthly averages of $3,000 more than those with high school diplomas (Bureau of Labor Statistics). And that is just the beginning. Raises and promotions are common benefits of experience in the job market.
  3. You want to change fields: If you started your career path in a field that does not hold your interest, then a degree in an entirely different area may excite you. College catalogs offer literally thousands of possibilities. You can start reading and start applying whenever you’re ready!
  4. You want to advance in your field: You may be currently working in a field you really enjoy, but you will need a bachelor’s degree if you want more challenge and responsibility, as well as higher earning potential. For instance, you may be working in education as a teacher’s aide, but you will need a bachelor’s and a teaching credential to become a teacher. Some teachers also complete a master’s degree program in their specialties.
  5. You want your resume to go to the top of the candidate pile: Normally, the first criteria a future employer will see on a resume is your education. Your undergraduate degree may make you a more desirable candidate in the job market than those without one.

Only you know why you want to go back to college. Your age is no reason to deny yourself the opportunities you want and deserve.

Is Financial Aid Available?

Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Yes. Financial aid from the government’s program Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) does not care about your age. If you go online to FAFSA’s website, you can discover their commitment to helping students reach their educational goals.

In addition to FAFSA, there are often public and private scholarships and a variety of programs, such as work-study programs, that may help you pay for tuition and other expenses if you qualify. You may ask your current employer if tuition assistance is available.

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Colleges also have financial aid advisors who can help answer your questions and point you toward any scholarships that may be available.

Should I Go Back to College at 30?

By reading this article, you are already gathering some of the information you need to make this important and life-changing decision. Higher education does take a good deal of commitment and perseverance, so you may want to discuss your options with those who are closest to you.

Luckily, online classes are available to those who need to maintain work and life responsibilities. Your investment toward earning a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree may be worth it financially, personally, and professionally.

Is It Too Late to Go to College at 30?

college student in university

Irish novelist Cecilia Ahearn wrote, “Age is just a number, not a state of mind or a reason for any type of particular behaviour.” Hopefully these words can give you the confidence and courage you need to attend, do your best, graduate, and reap the rewards of your hard work.

It really is never too late to improve yourself, gather new knowledge, and make the changes you desire. Colleges care about your success. Many students age 30 and above have blazed the same academic trail and succeeded. You need only to believe in yourself and to do the work set before you.

How Can I Get into College in My 30s?

college student in library

You can get into college in your 30s through the same process that all first time students have to follow.

It is helpful to read a school’s specific admissions requirements and to follow them exactly. You may need to obtain transcripts from every school you’ve attended, including any colleges you will want to transfer credits from.

You may want to carefully review requirements to see if any test scores are needed, such as ACT or SAT scores. It may also be helpful to review math and English subjects, such as algebra and grammar, if these rules have begun to fade from your memory over time.

You may begin requesting recommendation letters from teachers, employers, or others if they are required. You may also want to take the time to write personal essays so colleges can get to know you and learn about your goals, motivations, and life experiences.

I Want to Go Back to School, Where Do I Start?

college student in library

You already started! You may keep your momentum going by visiting college websites to view their different program options. It may be helpful to look for schools that offer accredited online degree programs if those will better accommodate your busy life.

A good strategy is to set aside some time each day to work on your applications. You may organize your thoughts by writing down what each university of interest requires for admission. You may then take the required steps to meet all of the requirements. It may be worthwhile to take note of important deadlines as well.

Is Going Back to School at 30 Worth It?

Is Going Back to School at 30 Worth It

Yes, going back to school at 30 is worth it for many adult students. Those who earn a bachelor’s degree make an average salary of $77,920 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

As a point of comparison, high school graduates with no college degree earn an average salary of $39,070 per year. While a significantly higher wage is a helpful benefit, it is not the only reason to consider going back to college at 30.

A bachelor’s degree can help you advance your knowledge and skills, as well as your earning potential. A college degree program can help you qualify for lucrative, interesting jobs that are currently off-limits to high school graduates. It’s never too late to start your journey toward a more rewarding and personally fulfilling future.

Ready to start your journey?
Maureen Rubin
Maureen Rubin
Maureen has a Juris Doctor, MA in public relations, and a BA in journalism. She is an Emeritus Professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge and enjoyed a career working in public information at non-profits, and in Congress & the White House. She welcomes an opportunity to share educational information with readers.