Adult Continuing Education: Advice For Going Back To College

The number of students aged 25 and older has increased quite a bit over the past decade or so.

To back that up, here are some numbers released by the National Center for Educational Statistics. In the last 15 years, there’s been a 35% increase in the number of college students between the ages of 25 and 34. And those numbers are expected to continue to rise.

Why Are More Pursuing Adult Continuing Education?

There are a number of reasons that explain this increase.

One is that more high school students are opting to take time off after high school before moving onto college.

Another reason has to do with career advancement. More adults are finding they need a degree to give them a better chance to get a promotion or better job.

And related to this, is the unemployment factor. Some who have been out of work for a while pursue adult education to improve their chances at landing a good job and re-entering the workforce. 

Also, sometimes life just happens. Getting married, having kids and other life situations pop up. These things are great, but can make it difficult to focus on school.

So, for whatever the reason, you’ve made the decision it’s time to (or go back to) college. Now that you’re ready to go back, here’s some advice on options and how to proceed.

 You’re Ready to go Back to College…Now What?

  • Decide whether you want to go the brick and mortar campus route or if online education is a better fit for you. Here’s an article on the pros and cons of each. This will help you get a sense of which option is the best one for your situation. 
  • Before you make a final decision on what college to attend, look into its accreditation. Make sure it will fulfill the requirements you may need for landing that job or career advancement you’re after. 
  • If you’re already have a job, see if you’re employer will cover some or all of your tuition costs. Some employers offer tuition assistance and/or reimbursement. Especially if you’re working toward a degree related to your current career path. 
  • Also, if you’re already got a job, look into night classes. (If you want to go the brick and mortar college route.) This will keep you free during the day to work and then pursue your degree in the evenings. 
  • Check out the financial aid options available. If you don’t qualify for financial aid, you can contact a bank or other financial institution about a private loan. 
  • If you opt for the on campus learning experience, take the time to get to know your professors and fellow classmates. One of the biggest benefits of the on campus experience is the social interactions and networking you can do. Take advantage of it!
  • Especially if you’re working while going back to school, schedule, schedule, schedule! Set time aside to get your homework, reading, labs, papers, etc. done. If you haven’t been in school for a while, it may take some time to adjust. Setting and making a good schedule will help you better balance your schoolwork with the rest of your responsibilities.


Going back to school as an adult can be a huge challenge. But the rewards you can get from adult continuing education both personally and professionally are enormous.