Going Back to College: A Mature Student’s Checklist

Many students don’t have the opportunity to complete their college education in the traditional manner. There are endless reasons including finances, family obligations, and the need to start a full-time job prior to age 22. The nice thing about today’s flexible post-secondary education system is the possibility for students to finish their bachelor’s degree in ways that accommodate their lifestyle – Our amazing Orange County college consultants are here to help.


A mature student is generally thought of as somebody who is starting college at the age of 21 or older, or a student who is going back to college years after having ceased their initial college education. People who are 25, 35, or 45 have a much different lifestyle than those who have just turned 18. Mature students almost always have a full-time job, and many of them handle supporting children. Additionally, they are certainly not interested in living in a college dorm while they complete their studies.

Students who are considering going back to college should take a look at an initial set of circumstances to make their transition back to college as fruitful and productive as possible (READ: “Staying Focused At Community College”).

1. Scheduling

Students going back to college should consider the time they currently have to dedicate to classes. Assuming they are working 40 hours per week, that means 1 hour per day of studying puts them up for a 45-hour work week. Being realistic about the amount of time somebody has to dedicate to their studies and still be successful on the job will help them discover what type of educational program will best suit their needs.

2. Money

Although mature students are more likely to earn more money than their traditional student counterparts, they are also more likely to have additional expenses. Obligations such as a mortgage, financial support for children or spouse, and so on all contribute to the decision to go back to college and which colleges are affordable.

Students should also think about which colleges are for-profit and which are not-for-profit. Some universities geared towards adult learners are for-profit, meaning students will pay much more than they would in a not-for-profit program. Mature students are also encouraged to see if they qualify for a low-interest student loan that would allow them to afford the program that meets their busy schedule (READ: “College Scholarships 101: Burgers and Donuts?”).

3. Current Student Loans

In addition to thinking about the money an adult learner will have to spend to go back to college, they should also consider how much they currently owe in student loans. There are many opportunities for mature students to consolidate or defer their student loans, however, there are a multitude of scams out there, thus adult learners are encouraged to heavily investigate any student loan options before signing a piece of paper.

4. Transferring Credit

Students who have been out of college a couple of years will likely be able to transfer the majority of their credits to their new school program. However, students who have been out of college for ten years or more may find that some of their credits have expired. It’s important for a mature student to know how many years it will take to go back to school based on how many credits transfer over.

5. Online Schools

Online schools are becoming ever popular amongst mature students because they allow them to maintain their full-time job and save time driving to and from a bustling campus. Some online programs are highly legitimate, offer high-quality teaching staff, and provide students with excellent job opportunities upon graduation. However, some online schools are not accredited or only partially accredited; meaning that the students may spend a bunch of money only to find out that their degree is not valid. Perspective online students should investigate the current and future accreditation of any program before signing up or paying tuition (READ: “Extra Curricular Activities For Your College Resume”).

Bottom Line

Students who want to go back to school at any age are encouraged to do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams. However, before making a commitment to simultaneous full-time work and part-time study, students are encouraged to go through a checklist that will help ease the transition back to school and ensure success in the job market upon graduation.

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