A Guide To Returning To College As An Older Adult 

Updated on April 20, 2023
Cute older university student with curly red hair doing homework sitting at kitchen table with coffee cup and wired earphones next to big window, watching online tutorial on laptop and writing in copybook

There are various reasons why an adult may decide to return to college. One is to increase earnings potential. Even one wants to get more salaries from employers. An adult can get promoted by advancing in education, which usually comes with an additional income.  

Another reason is to start a new career path. After working for many decades in one line of work, a person may get bored or feel that they no longer love their career. If an adult finds out their passion lies in something totally different from what they’re currently doing, they may need additional training to venture into a new career. And this requires them to go back to college.  

One may also go back to college to start a business. Many people dream of running their own companies. And for a good reason, it gives them flexibility in terms of business strategy and the ability to control their schedules. In fact, those who run their companies are more successful in life than those who do white-collar jobs. But one must know what it takes to run a business. For this reason, many adults go back to college to acquire business management skills.  

Some other people go to college at an old age since they didn’t go to college immediately after high school. And there are many reasons, including financial challenges or joining the workforce. Now that they’re financially stable and have time, they can join college.  

Strategies For Adults Planning To Go Back To College 

It’s no secret that many adults are going back to college. But unfortunately, there are few resources to guide such individuals in preparing and planning to return to school. But the good news is that this guide has all your worries addressed. It explains all the essential steps you can take when planning to return to college. They include the following:  

1. Select A School That Suits Your Needs 

Going to college as an adult is easier said than done. This is true since such individuals have many other duties to attend to. For instance, most of them have families to take care of and work which they do to earn a livelihood. This implies that such an individual can’t quit their job or suspend other responsibilities. If you’ve other responsibilities, it’s crucial to identify a college that accommodates your needs.  

For instance, you can choose a college with the flexibility to attend online classes. If that isn’t available, select a college with evening or weekend classes. This way, you can address other matters during the day and attend college in the evening.  

2. Find The Best College Apartment

If you find a college in a distant location from home, it might be impossible to commute every day. Therefore, consider hiring a  college apartment near the school.  

There are several reasons you’d choose an apartment off-campus than on-campus housing. One is to save money. Because of the high competition of on-campus hostels, they’re always priced higher than the current market price. If you want to reduce your costs, an off-campus apartment could be ideal.  

Another reason for loving off-campus is fewer restrictions. The college usually controls on-campus housing. Therefore, students don’t have as much freedom as they’d usually have if they lived in an apartment off-campus. If you want to avoid restrictions on the kind of music you can listen to, the number of people who can visit you, or do anything you want, consider hiring a college apartment.  

There are many effective strategies when finding a perfect college apartment for you. They include the following:  

  • Set A Budget

One of the important things to do when shopping for a college apartment is to set a budget. In this regard, figure out how much you can afford and are willing to spend on your rent. But even before you set your budget, research the overall rental fees for college apartments around the school. This will allow you to set a clear budget before looking for an apartment.  

While that’s the case, other factors can determine how much rent you will pay. For instance, you might be forced to go deeper into your pockets if you want a fully furnished college apartment. Likewise, an apartment near the school might be more expensive than those miles away. Ensure you consider such elements to help create the right budget.  

  • Shop For The College Apartment Early Enough 

Today, most colleges attract students from all over the world. But because of the limited spaces in on-campus housing, many students go for apartments off-campus. This means that there’s also high competition for such facilities. Therefore, you might not secure a place to live if you aren’t careful. This is why you need to shop for a college apartment early enough. It also allows you the freedom to live where you want. So, once you receive the admission letter to join the college, start shopping for an apartment.  

  • Hire A Realtor

Finding the right college apartment can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Fortunately, you can streamline the process by hiring a realtor. These are experts in the real estate rental sector, so they can help find answers to questions you may have. 

Besides, realtors usually work with landlords. Therefore, they can have a few apartments in mind, thus streamlining the process. However, you must find an experienced and reliable realtor.  

You can implement many strategies to ensure you find the right college apartment. Those are just a few of them to guide you. Only by selecting a perfect apartment can you do well in class.  

Strategies For Adults Planning To Go Back To College
In the Classroom Multi Ethnic Students Listening to a Lecturer and Writing in Notebooks. Smart Young People Study at the College.

3. Organize For Tuition Fees 

Paying for college fees can be challenging for adult learners who have to bear the cost. These are people who, apart from tuition fees, have other financial responsibilities like feeding their families. And others might be saving or investing for their retirement. For this reason, you should organize tuition fees. Otherwise, you might experience many challenges down the road.  

You can use your savings or salary if employed to cover tuition expenses. However, you can look for other options if savings and salary aren’t available or sufficient. For instance, you can apply for a loan for students. Several banks and other financial institutions offer loans for students who want to settle their tuition fees. You can identify one to help fund your education.  

Another way to pay for a college education is to dispose of your personal assets in cash. If you’ve got a motor car, land, or any other asset you no longer use, you can sell them and earn money for your college tuition fees.  

You also need to know that some employers pay tuition fees for employees who want to advance their careers. Explore whether the company you work for can help fund your education. And if yes, you need to determine how much they can cover so that you can arrange for the rest.  

It’s also good to know that most states offer cover tuition fees for older adults. Besides, certain colleges have free tuition for senior adults. Therefore, ensure you research free college tuition for adults. This not only enables you to organize your finances but also to choose the best school.  

You can also apply for college scholarships for adults returning to school. There’s financial aid by donors to students who don’t have enough money to pay for their tuition fees. And since they’re free, you won’t have to repay. Most academic scholarships don’t have an age limit. Therefore, you can apply for them to cover your college tuition fee expense. But because of the high number of college students looking for scholarships, you must apply on time. Otherwise, you may not qualify for one.  

4. Talk To A College Enrollment Advisor 

It’s common for most high schools to provide guidance to students joining college. Adults who left high school many years ago might not get the opportunity for such guidance. But this doesn’t mean that adult learners should walk on their own. Most colleges and universities have a team of advisors to help adult learners transition to college life.  

You can easily walk into the enrolment advisor’s office for guidance if you attend physical classes. If you select online classes mode, you connect with enrolment advisors through email, virtual chats, and other online platforms. This allows you to get the right information about the college and answer your questions. As such, you can transition to college life with fewer or no hassles. 

5. Establish A Conducive Learning Environment Ah Home

If you enroll in online classes, you should develop a conducive learning environment at home. Basically, online students have to do a lot on their own. They must research, write notes, do assignments, and complete projects before the end-of-semester exams. All these preparations and tasks require a conducive learning environment at home.  

One of the things to do to develop a conducive learning environment at home is to create an office. You can find a place in the kitchen, sitting room, or bedroom to place a chair and a table. The area should be clear and free from distractions.  

You must also install a computer and internet connection system in your learning environment. Note that online learning requires you to connect with teachers over the internet. You’ll also be submitting assignments and projects online. Ideally, you’ll be doing almost everything over the internet as an online learner. Therefore, you must have a computer and an internet connection.  

6. Join Campus Clubs And Societies

One of the best ways to ensure you succeed in college education is to interact with others. This way, you can share ideas and information, allowing you to do well in class and become a better professional in the future.  

There are several ways to ensure you interact with other students. For instance, you can join college clubs and societies. Today, most colleges have launched clubs and societies for even older adults. Identify one you can join.  

7. Research Your Future Career

As noted earlier, some adults return to college for a career change. If this is the case with you, it’s important to determine what education requirements or qualifications are expected of you. For instance, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in advocacy, you’ll have to earn a law degree. And if you want to become a business executive, you’ll need to graduate with a business management degree. 

Understanding what educational requirements are expected from you will help you identify the college with that course. It also helps you to find a school with the right resources for your career path. Therefore, before you enroll in any college, be sure to research your future career.  

8. Maintain A Healthy Balance Between School, Life, And Work 

Balancing school, life, and work isn’t easy since all require your attention. And if you aren’t careful, you can develop anxiety, stress, and even depression, which may hurt your mental health.  

Creating a schedule is the best way to maintain a healthy balance between school, life, and work. The schedule should indicate when to work, attend classes, and do other life tasks. In other words, you should establish clear boundaries between school, life, and work. 

But you should ensure that you aren’t always engaged. Create time to rest or do other activities you like, such as your hobbies. You should also eat healthy meals and do regular exercise. All these will help refresh your mind, improve your health, and ensure that you’re ready to learn when the time to log in to online classes comes.  


It’s common to find adults returning to college these days. And there are various reasons, including the need for career advancement, workplace promotions, and skills to start a business. While this is the case, most adults who want to return to college don’t know where to begin. Fortunately, one can use the information in this guide to prepare or plan to return to college. Selecting the right school, finding the best apartment, organizing tuition fees, talking to a college enrolment advisor, and establishing a conducive learning environment at home are effective strategies for adults planning to return to college.  


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