Am I Too Old To Start College?

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Last Updated on July 30, 2021

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Life takes many twists and turns. Not everyone’s path looks the same.

Many people choose to start their college career straight out of high school. They graduate four years later and continue on their path.

Not everyone takes that path, though. Some people start working, get married, have children, join the military, or they take any one of the millions of other paths out there.

Did your path lead you down other twists and turns? Are you starting to consider a college education now, later in life?  

No one path is any more valid than another, and there is no wrong time to get an education. Even if you are not what some would consider “college-age,” that doesn’t mean you aren’t college material.

Keep reading to find out what you need to know about starting college later in life. 

Is It Common to Start College As An Older Adult? 

The National Center for Education Statistics estimated that in 2019 7.5 million people over the age of 25 enrolled in college. Anyone over the age of 25 is considered an adult learner or mature student. These numbers show that there are indeed many adults of different ages heading to college. If you are thinking of starting college now, you are not alone. 

Why Should I Start College Now?

There are plenty of great reasons to start college at any age.

The primary reason is to fulfill your goals. For whatever reasons, you feel that getting a college education will accomplish something for you. It could be something personal, or it could be something professional. But it is your goal. That is important. 

Unlike some recent high school graduates, you have the benefit of being entirely in control of your own choices. Many high school graduates head off to college without choosing a major simply because their parents make them.

When individuals are making their own choice to start an education, they go in with a certain advantage. You made this choice. You own this choice. You will bring to class a different kind of motivation than someone who is being forced to attend. 

Another great reason you should attend college now is that you have the maturity to really take advantage of all college has to offer. Many “college-aged” students struggle with understanding what a privilege and gift their education is. Many students simply can’t take it seriously.

Adult students or senior citizens starting college have lived long enough to understand the value of an education. Maybe you have even had to struggle a little because you didn’t have a degree. You know how much this means to your future and your family. You will be able to bring a level of maturity and seriousness to your education that you may not have had available to you in your late teens or early twenties. 

What Challenges Might I Face?

As with any new adventure, there will definitely be challenges.

One of the biggest challenges that adult learners face is juggling school with their other obligations in life. The younger students on campus may not be dealing with a full-time job, a spouse, children, or a mortgage.

This won’t be easy at times, but remember there are a lot of resources available to help you. Take advantage of campus resources that can help you learn how to navigate these new waters. 

You should also remember that there will be a learning curve at first, especially if you have been out of school for a while. This learning curve will feel really, really hard the first few weeks. It will ease up, though, as you get into a routine and start to build your confidence. 

My Life, I Guess

My Life, I Guess is a personal finance and career blog by Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and older millennial from Ontario, Canada that strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.

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