How to make going back to school at 30 possible

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

By Laurie Quinn, Next Avenue Contributor

Now that college commencement season 2018 is in the books, it’s easy to picture an empty campus quad with ivy-clad buildings awaiting a new batch of eager young learners this fall. But many of this year’s graduates didn’t fit this profile.

Take Mike, for example — a student at Champlain College (where I am provost and senior vice president for academics). He recently completed a bachelor’s degree in integrated studies and is in his early 60s. Mike had a successful 30-year tech career, despite having earlier ended college at an associate degree. When his employer, a multinational telecommunications company, announced new technology initiatives and began encouraging its workforce to upskill in key areas like cybersecurity, Mike realized he needed to finally get his bachelor’s degree to remain competitive. Taking advantage of his employer’s partnership with our school’s online curriculum, he enrolled in his first cybersecurity course; three years later, Mike graduated with a bachelor’s and an in-demand, up-to-date technology skill set.

Adult Learners: The Majority of Degree Seekers

You may be surprised to learn that adult students like Mike are now the majority of degree seekers in the U.S.

Also on Forbes:

Many adult online students are already high-achieving people earning a decent living. They may have served their country in the military and may have begun college years ago. Some started families whose needs had to come first or just found that “real life” took over and sidelined their education plans.

Sometimes the joy of learning itself motivates an adult to enroll in college, but often there’s a practical payoff, too. Even in your 50s or 60s, there can be a significant economic upside to earning, or completing, that college degree.

The decision to go back to school as an adult with a host of competing priorities and responsibilities isn’t an easy one, however, and some people may question the value of getting an education later in life. In fact, a recent national survey from Champlain College Online (known for its career-focused adult education) found that 60% of U.S. adults age 23 to 55 without a bachelor’s degree have considered returning to school, but costs and student debt were deterrents.

While going back to school later in life isn’t the right choice for everyone, it’s becoming an increasingly attractive option, as more adults choose to delay retirement, the workforce becomes even more competitive and career shifts become more common.

4 Reasons People 50+ Are Going Back to School

Some of the main reasons older adults choose to pursue a degree include:

Searching for a Second-Chapter Career Many adults find themselves decades into their career paths and realize they’d like to spend the last of their working years doing something completely different. Others retire and discover they want to find a job. Still others find themselves out of work because their duties have been outsourced or rendered obsolete by new technologies. For adults looking to pursue a second-chapter career in a new field, a degree is often the best way to develop the necessary skills.

Staying Competitive in the Workforce In many fields, particularly those with a technology focus, it’s easy for skill sets to become outdated. Many companies choose to bring on newer, younger talent rather than invest in upskilling and retraining their current workforces — and in those circumstances, it’s older adults who are most often at a disadvantage. Going back to school (whether to finish a degree or complete a new one) is a great way to build on existing knowledge or develop expertise to stay competitive in the workforce.

Creating New Challenges and Learning New Things Even for adults who are happy and secure in their current organizations, the desire to keep learning may remain strong. Going back to school is often a way to create new challenges for yourself, learn new things and provide an opportunity for personal development.

Meeting a Long-Held Goal For many adults — particularly those who never completed a degree or who’ve made multiple attempts to go back to school, obtaining a degree is a lifelong goal. Whether for personal fulfillment, to inspire a child or grandchild or simply to be able to say “I did it,” returning to college is a way of finishing what they started and fulfilling a long-held dream. And for many of these individuals, the journey may be significantly shorter than expected; many institutions now accept previously earned credits, will translate workplace competency into transfer credits or provide credit for on-the-job training.

Some colleges have longstanding experience serving working adults with high-quality online programs dedicated to ensuring that the decision to go back to school pays off. And many such schools are creating new pathways to make this a viable option for even more people, including the over-50 crowd.

My school, for example, recently made the decision to lower online undergraduate tuition by 50%, to $318 per credit. This was a result of witnessing firsthand the power of investing in adult learners and their success.

While tuition cuts like Champlain’s are unusual in higher education, institutions are increasingly finding new ways to make it easier for adult learners to pursue a degree. And the number of schools offering fully online programs has expanded dramatically in the past few decades.

Adults who make the brave choice to go back to school to earn a degree later in life won’t be alone. College classes are seeing increasing numbers of students like Mike, who, on the first day of class, are introducing themselves as career-changers, retirees and grandparents.

What was once the exception is now, more than ever, the norm.

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

SPECIAL FROM Next Avenue

Getting a degree or certificate won’t guarantee a job. Here’s what you need to know to increase your chances of finding new work.

I suspect many Americans in their 50s and 60s are considering going back to school to improve their career prospects.

After all, getting additional education in midlife – whether it’s a bachelors degree, a masters or a certificate – can be an excellent way to move into a new career, earn a promotion or make more money.

But college isn’t cheap and there’s no guarantee that further schooling will lead to a new job or fatten your paycheck.

So when does it pay to go back to school after age 50 or so?

(MORE: Why I Went Back to College)

A Midlife Degree Is No Job Guarantee

I got to thinking about this issue after my editor forwarded me an email from a distraught 59-year-old Next Avenue reader. She couldn’t find a job after picking up a bachelor’s degree in social work because employers said she lacked the necessary experience.

That’s an all too common chicken-and-egg predicament faced by many new, older graduates: You need relevant experience to get a new job, but you need a job to gain relevant experience.

If going back to school, either for a degree or a certificate, is something you’re thinking about, here are three considerations for choosing a program wisely, plus two tips to help you find a job after completing your studies:

How to Select a Back-to-School Program

Research employment rates for new graduates. There was a time when pretty much any college degree was a ticket to a new job. But those days are long gone.

According to “Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings 2013,” a study just released by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the choice of a college major determines your likelihood of unemployment.

The study found that the unemployment rate was roughly 5 percent for recent nursing and education majors, but more than 10 percent for grads with degrees in architecture and information systems, concentrated in clerical functions.

So you’ll want to research official employment statistics by industry before enrolling anywhere. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good source for this type of information.

Keep in mind that some fields, like entertainment and high tech, are known for favoring younger workers. Others, like accounting and health care, tend to be more welcoming to people over 40. But as the Next Avenue reader’s struggle illustrates, even in fields like social work, where age is often valued, getting hired without job-related experience can still be difficult.

If you’d like to return to college to switch fields, it’s important to talk with industry insiders who can evaluate your odds of success. Ask about in-demand specialties or certifications that would maximize your educational investment.

Investigate alternatives to four-year and two-year degrees. If the high cost of a degree and the possibility of taking on debt to pay the tuition has you worried (especially now that the student loan rate just shot up to 6 percent), consider less costly options, like a certificate program.

Short-term specialized certificate and vocational training programs can often be quick and fairly inexpensive ways to snag good-paying jobs.

The websites of community colleges, technical schools and industry associations are excellent places to search for quality certificate programs in high-demand fields.

Some community colleges also participate in the Plus 50 initiative, a national program comprising courses and life transition counseling services for people over 50. To find one near you, check out the Plus 50 website.

Another excellent site for researching continuing education programs is Petersons.com.

Find educational programs that offer real-world work experience. The more jobs, internships or volunteer positions you’ve racked up in your new, intended field before graduation, the easier it will be get hired when school is over. So look for a college degree or certificate that offers these types of opportunities as part of its curriculum.

Who knows? One of the places you work while in school could wind up becoming your employer when you complete your education.

2 Tips for Finding a Job After Graduation

Get involved in your new field while you’re in school. As I’ve written before, networking is the best way to find a job these days. So don’t wait until you finish your coursework to become actively engaged in your new industry.

Soon after you enroll, join its trade association, start going to conferences and participate in related social networking groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Those types of efforts did the trick for Joan Baird, 55, of Fort Wayne, Ind., who graduated from Northwestern University with an M.S. in medical informatics in 2010. She volunteered for industry groups, rubbed elbows at conferences and eventually landed a job as a business systems analyst for a hospital.

Tap into your new network of professors and classmates plus the school’s alumni office. They can offer great connections. Many professors continue to work in their field and know people in it who may be able to help you get a foot in the door.

Your classmates can be an excellent source of job leads and referrals, too. So be sure to stay in touch with them regularly, online and in person, once you finish your degree or certificate program.

Your college may also have an alumni career services office that can assist in your job search when graduation nears. These departments sometimes offer webinars, career fairs and one-on-one counseling sessions.

Finally, as your college classes are winding down, don’t forget to revamp your resumé, LinkedIn profile and other job-search materials to highlight your recent education and internship experiences.

An excellent book to help you do so is Expert Resumés for Career Changers by Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark.

Why These Steps Are Worthwhile

I know this all sounds like a heck of a lot of work. It is.

But if you’re willing to invest the energy, the payoff for going back to school can be well worth the effort.

As Joan Baird, who leveraged her new degree into a job, told me: “It wasn’t easy. But I worked darn hard and it finally paid off.”

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

Related

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  • How to Get Disability If You’ve Been Hurt on the Job

After losing your job, it’s natural to want to try to find a new job as soon as possible. In fact, that’s exactly what your state’s unemployment agency wants you to do. However, if you are having difficulty finding work, you may need to refresh your current job skills or acquire new ones. Your state may allow you to go back to school, even while you continue to draw benefits.

Available for Work

To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must be available for and seeking work. Historically, this meant that unemployment recipients who were enrolled in educational programs either had to forgo benefits, drop out of school, or get special permission from their state unemployment agency to remain in their program. The reasoning behind this policy was that people receiving benefits should be available to start work at any time. Being in school could conflict with a person’s ability to go to an interview or take a job right away.

However, during the Great Recession, President Obama issued a directive that encouraged state unemployment agencies to be more lenient and to allow benefit claimants to go to school while still searching for employment. As a result, many states changed their rules regarding education, allowing recipients to take classes while also searching for work.

If you are applying for unemployment benefits and are considering returning to school or remaining enrolled in a program, it’s important to understand your state’s policies. Not all programs are eligible for approval, particularly if you are a full-time student in a traditional degree program.Exceptions may be made, however, particularly if you were already enrolled in school while holding down a job, agree to change your schedule, or if your current job skills are in low demand and you need a degree to make yourself more employable.

State Policies

While unemployment insurance is a federal program, it is managed by state agencies. Each state sets its own policies for those who want to go to school while receiving unemployment benefits. Some are more stringent than others, for example, some states favor short-term vocational training over more extended college degree programs.

Examples:

California: Benefit claimants who could benefit from training may be able to qualify for the California training benefits program. The claimant will either have to enroll in a federal or state workforce training program or, if the claim interviewer believes it would make the climate more employable, may also opt to enroll in a vocational school or higher education program.

Ohio: Claimants must report participation in educational programs to the unemployment agency. If the claimant was already in school while employed, she may still be considered available for work. The agency may also approve participation in an agency approved training course.

Massachusetts: The Training Opportunities Program allows unemployment claimants to enroll in an approved educational program. Massachusetts approves a range of options, including internships, vocational schools and both online and traditional college courses. As long as the recipient meets the educational hour requirements each week, and keeps up with the other program requirements, he or she can receive benefits and is not required to search for work.

New Jersey: Full-time students, meaning those who are enrolled for at least 12 credit hours at a college or university, are not eligible for unemployment benefits unless they were already enrolled in school while also working. Claimants are enrolled in an agency-approved training course are likewise able to claim benefits.

Oregon: The Training Unemployment Insurance program allows workers to claim benefits and forgo work search requirements while taking a short-term approve training course. The program will sometimes support benefits for somebody who is completing a traditional higher education degree if that individual is 48 or fewer credit hours away from program completion.

Reporting Educational Activities

Many states will ask you to report your participation in educational training activities when you certify for benefits. Your unemployment handbook or agency website will explain how to do this. In places such as California, where there are multiple training options, including approved workforce programs, the processes for reporting your participation can vary significantly. In some cases, you’ll need to report your participation yourself, in other instances, the course provider will submit paperwork to the unemployment agency on your behalf. Make sure you understand which type of program you are enrolled in and what you need to do.

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

According to EAB, a research firm in the education sector, 38 percent of undergraduates are considered adult learners—i.e. older than 25. This number of adult undergraduates is projected to grow 21 percent by 2022. Adults going back to college to add to their existing degrees or finish degrees they once started is becoming increasingly common. With flexible coursework opportunities, including online education, and new technologies that many adult learners want to learn, the opportunities are endless.

But what is sparking this trend? Why are so many adults going back to school at 40, 50, and beyond? While each individual will have his or her own reasons for wanting to go back to school, there are some that seem to be common, including these seven.

Increase Your Earning Potential

Everyone wants to earn more money, right? Well, adults going back to school can increase their earning potential substantially. Many people find they can move beyond their current positions into managerial positions or other roles of leadership with additional training, and that type of move usually comes with additional income. Going back to school at 40 or even 50 makes sense if it opens the door to a greater number of financial opportunities.

Start a New Career Path

Many adults find that, after a decade of two in their current line of work, they just don’t love it anymore, if they ever did. They may find that their passions lie elsewhere, but they need additional training to launch their new career choice. Going back to school can open the door to new career paths.

Perhaps you aren’t unhappy in your current line of work, but you’ve learned about a new opportunity with greater potential. Again, many adults going back to college are doing so to open these new career paths, so feel free to jump on board if you see an opportunity you wish to pursue.

Your Income Has Grown

Student loan debt is a problem for the vast majority of the population. Forbes estimates the total amount of student loan debt in the United States is over $1.5 trillion with an average of $28,650 per borrower in 2019. Maybe you didn’t finish or start your college degree because of fears of adding to your debt load. Now that you have started working and your income has increased, you may have the resources to return to school and complete your education without student loans.

You Didn’t Go to School When You Were Younger

Not everyone graduates from high school and immediately heads to college. Sometimes older learners are not adults returning to college, but rather adults starting college for the first time. There is no shame in starting your degree in your 30s or 40s, because life and life’s circumstances change. If you have the opportunity now to pursue what you couldn’t in your 20s, go ahead and pursue it.

You Need to Finish Your Degree

Though college completion rates are up, as many as six out of 10 students who start a college degree program will not have their degree in hand within six years, according to NPR. Some find the financial burden too high, while others end up starting families and getting caught up in the demands of early parenting. If you are among the millions who start college and never finish, then you may have the opportunity to complete your training now.

Your Skill Set Needs Updating

Maybe you have found that your current skill set is no longer sufficient for the needs of your job. This often happens when technology changes. Shifting to new technology can make it difficult for you to complete your work as you once did. Adults going back to school have the opportunity to learn new skills that can translate into better work opportunities. In addition, going back to school after seeing where your career path is taking you provides the opportunity to learn the specific skills you know you will need, rather than generic skills that may or may not apply to your line of work.

You’re Thinking of Becoming an Entrepreneur

After many years of working in your business, perhaps you have discovered that you truly love it and want to branch out on your own. Starting your own business can be rewarding and lucrative, but do you know what it takes to run a successful company?

Being skilled in what you do is an important part of launching your own business, but you’ll also need to understand the ins and outs of running a successful business. Sometimes, adults going back to college are doing so to gain the business training they need to start. With classes in business leadership, management or the nuts and bolts of how to launch a company, you’ll learn what it takes to put your existing skills to work in a successful and growing business.

You’ve already gained the skills in your career field, but now it’s time to gain the business skills you need to put them to work.

Adults going back to college have a number of reasons for pursuing their degrees. From gaining skills and business knowledge to increasing your earning potential and finally completing that neglected degree program, your reasons are highly personal. With the many online and hybrid education opportunities out there, adults now have more options than ever before to make their degrees possible.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of going back to school, now is an excellent time to invest in your education, and Post University is here to help. Contact us today. Let’s talk about your educational goals and what it will take to achieve them.

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How to make going back to school at 30 possibleEvery year, 1.2 million U.S. students drop out of high school.

That’s about one in four high school students who will not graduate. Earning your high school diploma is extremely important. You can learn more in this article.

If you’re thinking of dropping out, don’t. If you’ve already dropped out, it’s not too late.

A large portion of iSucceed Virtual High School students come already behind on credits. And each year, many former “at-risk” students go on to receive their high school diploma.

That means we can help you!

You Don’t Need a Credit Recovery Program to Graduate on Time

iSucceed is not a credit recovery program. A credit recovery program tends to consist of you sitting on a computer, reading documents, taking quizzes and passing the course.

If you failed your course the first time, why would you do better with hardly any support or guidance? That’s not what iSucceed’s about.

We are an accredited, public high school which means our courses aren’t easy. But we do have a few programs and personalized support that will make you more capable of catching up and graduating here at iSucceed than at another school. Learn more below.

How to Catch Up on Credits to Graduate

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

iSucceed’s academic structure helps students graduate on time or even early. You can learn more about graduating early here. Our curriculum is separated into three courses every eight to nine weeks. By the end of the traditional semester, a student at iSucceed will finish the same 6-8 courses a traditional student has; they just split it up differently.

Here’s how you can catch up:

After you successfully complete an eight to nine week quarter with iSucceed with passing grades, you are eligible to add an additional course. That means you can take four courses every eight to nine weeks for an additional credit! That may not sound like much, but that’s four additional semester courses in the standard school year.

As a refresher, here’s how to catch up on credits with iSucceed:

  • Enroll with iSucced. Learn how to here.
  • Successfully complete one block with iSucceed with good grades.
  • Get counselor approval to take additional courses.

Sometimes life circumstances can make it difficult to add on courses. If you are behind and unable to take on extra work, you can still earn your high school diploma. You can stay with iSucceed until you are 21. However long it takes you to finish high school is not important, so long as you do earn that accredited diploma!

Get started with iSucceed today!

Student Testimonials

Don’t just take our word for it. Here are a few other testimonials of online students who caught up on credits and graduated.

“I’ve had a rough high school career that put me in a bunch of different schools and left me behind in credits. Online school has helped me change that and was a great way to catch up and learn plenty of things on the way!

The way I finished was just realizing, I HAVE to do this. Don’t just drop out and give up after working for a couple years on it. Just be motivated and understand that having a diploma helps out a great bit in the real world…Good luck to all of you and understand that it’s all worth it in the end!”
-Joey Hergatt, Graduate

“My experience with online high school was great. I encountered credit problems at the beginning of my sophomore year, so my school recommended taking online courses.

At first I thought it was hard and that it needed a lot of focusing and dedication. Thanks to the help of all my teachers and student advisors, I was able to do so! I even became confident in asking for all the help I always needed, that’s how helpful and nice the teachers and advisors were with me.

Even though I came upon many conflicts and would fall behind on homework, the teachers always had a backup plan to help me move along and succeed. It offered a lot of flexibility!”
Marianna Montes, Graduate

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

By Laurie Quinn, Next Avenue Contributor

Now that college commencement season 2018 is in the books, it’s easy to picture an empty campus quad with ivy-clad buildings awaiting a new batch of eager young learners this fall. But many of this year’s graduates didn’t fit this profile.

Take Mike, for example — a student at Champlain College (where I am provost and senior vice president for academics). He recently completed a bachelor’s degree in integrated studies and is in his early 60s. Mike had a successful 30-year tech career, despite having earlier ended college at an associate degree. When his employer, a multinational telecommunications company, announced new technology initiatives and began encouraging its workforce to upskill in key areas like cybersecurity, Mike realized he needed to finally get his bachelor’s degree to remain competitive. Taking advantage of his employer’s partnership with our school’s online curriculum, he enrolled in his first cybersecurity course; three years later, Mike graduated with a bachelor’s and an in-demand, up-to-date technology skill set.

Adult Learners: The Majority of Degree Seekers

You may be surprised to learn that adult students like Mike are now the majority of degree seekers in the U.S.

Also on Forbes:

Many adult online students are already high-achieving people earning a decent living. They may have served their country in the military and may have begun college years ago. Some started families whose needs had to come first or just found that “real life” took over and sidelined their education plans.

Sometimes the joy of learning itself motivates an adult to enroll in college, but often there’s a practical payoff, too. Even in your 50s or 60s, there can be a significant economic upside to earning, or completing, that college degree.

The decision to go back to school as an adult with a host of competing priorities and responsibilities isn’t an easy one, however, and some people may question the value of getting an education later in life. In fact, a recent national survey from Champlain College Online (known for its career-focused adult education) found that 60% of U.S. adults age 23 to 55 without a bachelor’s degree have considered returning to school, but costs and student debt were deterrents.

While going back to school later in life isn’t the right choice for everyone, it’s becoming an increasingly attractive option, as more adults choose to delay retirement, the workforce becomes even more competitive and career shifts become more common.

4 Reasons People 50+ Are Going Back to School

Some of the main reasons older adults choose to pursue a degree include:

Searching for a Second-Chapter Career Many adults find themselves decades into their career paths and realize they’d like to spend the last of their working years doing something completely different. Others retire and discover they want to find a job. Still others find themselves out of work because their duties have been outsourced or rendered obsolete by new technologies. For adults looking to pursue a second-chapter career in a new field, a degree is often the best way to develop the necessary skills.

Staying Competitive in the Workforce In many fields, particularly those with a technology focus, it’s easy for skill sets to become outdated. Many companies choose to bring on newer, younger talent rather than invest in upskilling and retraining their current workforces — and in those circumstances, it’s older adults who are most often at a disadvantage. Going back to school (whether to finish a degree or complete a new one) is a great way to build on existing knowledge or develop expertise to stay competitive in the workforce.

Creating New Challenges and Learning New Things Even for adults who are happy and secure in their current organizations, the desire to keep learning may remain strong. Going back to school is often a way to create new challenges for yourself, learn new things and provide an opportunity for personal development.

Meeting a Long-Held Goal For many adults — particularly those who never completed a degree or who’ve made multiple attempts to go back to school, obtaining a degree is a lifelong goal. Whether for personal fulfillment, to inspire a child or grandchild or simply to be able to say “I did it,” returning to college is a way of finishing what they started and fulfilling a long-held dream. And for many of these individuals, the journey may be significantly shorter than expected; many institutions now accept previously earned credits, will translate workplace competency into transfer credits or provide credit for on-the-job training.

Some colleges have longstanding experience serving working adults with high-quality online programs dedicated to ensuring that the decision to go back to school pays off. And many such schools are creating new pathways to make this a viable option for even more people, including the over-50 crowd.

My school, for example, recently made the decision to lower online undergraduate tuition by 50%, to $318 per credit. This was a result of witnessing firsthand the power of investing in adult learners and their success.

While tuition cuts like Champlain’s are unusual in higher education, institutions are increasingly finding new ways to make it easier for adult learners to pursue a degree. And the number of schools offering fully online programs has expanded dramatically in the past few decades.

Adults who make the brave choice to go back to school to earn a degree later in life won’t be alone. College classes are seeing increasing numbers of students like Mike, who, on the first day of class, are introducing themselves as career-changers, retirees and grandparents.

What was once the exception is now, more than ever, the norm.

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

By Stephen L. Antczak, Next Avenue Contributor

Over 50 and considering going back to college to get a degree?

If you do, you might see significant payoffs professionally and personally.

After a Master’s: New Job, Better Pay

Consider Tony Ubelhor, who found himself out of a job in 2009 at age 55. He’d been teaching English, writing and American literature at the University of Kentucky, but a departmental reorganization resulted in layoffs. Because he had a master’s in English but not a Ph.D., a tenure-track teaching job — and therefore job security — was out of reach.

So Ubelhor researched his next move. He learned that the University of Kentucky offered an online Master of Library Science degree and discovered that job opportunities in the field were plentiful. To facilitate getting the degree, and a job, fast, Ubelhor took out about $20,000 in student loans and went back to school full-time.

“The hardest thing about it was taking on student loan debt,” he said. “But I figured it was worth it to become gainfully employed again as quickly as possible.”

Last year, at 59, Ubelhor landed a tenure-track position as assistant professor for Library Science at Columbia Basin College in Washington, making significantly more money than he did before.

From Stay-At-Home Mom to RN

Then there’s Nita Scott. After spending years as a stay-at-home mom, she got a Pell grant and went back to school in 2004, at 54, to receive an associate degree in nursing from Macon State College (now Middle Georgia State College). Since then, she has worked as a registered nurse for 10 years at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Ga.

Her greatest challenge? “English class,” she said. “But I was determined to do it, and I did.”

Scott said she found it easy to stay focused on studying and homework, while many of her classmates had other priorities. “I was settled, but young people get really distracted by dating,” Scott added.

Proud to Earn a Bachelor’s At 67

Cinni Milliken had a rockier road to her degree. In her teens, Milliken briefly attended Stetson University before dropping out. Next, she attended community college in the 1980s and dropped out again. In 2001, Milliken attended Santa Fe Community College and she finally got her bachelor’s in English from the University of Florida in 2005 — at age 67.

Milliken didn’t get her degree to help snare a job. She went back to school because it was something she’d always wanted to do. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree was unfinished business and gave her a sense of accomplishment.

“Older students tend to be more focused and committed to doing well because they have a clear goal in mind,” said Milliken. “They know why they’re going back to school; they’re not going just because it’s expected of them.”

5 Reasons to Get a Degree After 50

Here are five reasons you might want to go back to college for a degree after 50:

A sense of accomplishment As Milliken noted, getting a college degree in your 50s or 60s can make you proud of yourself.

Better job prospects In June 2014, the unemployment rate for adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 3.3%. But for high school graduates with no college, it was 5.8%; for those with some college or an associate degree, the rate was 5%.

Personal growth A degree isn’t just a piece of paper or a badge. It’s an indication that you’ve learned something — and learning is a form of growing.

A great way to keep busy If you’re in retirement, going back to college for a degree might prove to be the key to staying mentally active. Endless rounds of golf and constant game show reruns can’t compete with that.

A way to contribute to society This may not seem obvious at first glance, but a degree can be a great first step towards making the world a better place. For example, a degree might open the door to teaching at-risk kids.

Stephen L. Antczak is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and is the author of four books and more than 50 short stories.

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

Next Avenue is public media’s first and only national journalism service for America’s booming older population. Our daily content delivers vital ideas, context and

Next Avenue is public media’s first and only national journalism service for America’s booming older population. Our daily content delivers vital ideas, context and perspectives on issues that matter most as we age.

If you have a real passion for hair, makeup, nails and all other things beauty, then you are possibly considering a career in cosmetology. But, before you can call yourself a professional, you will need to attend beauty school, to learn all the skills that you can’t pick up on Instagram tutorials.

If you are thinking of going to beauty school, you are about to embark on an amazing, challenging, and rewarding journey. With these little insights into the life at beauty school, you really will be able to make the most out of your experience.

1. You Will Get Your Hands Dirty
The majority of learning in beauty school does not happen in a classroom. There is only so much you can learn by taking notes in a lecture hall. Most of your learning will be hands on; you will be cutting real hair (either on a mannequin head or on a client), or applying makeup to real people, within a salon environment. There is no better way to learn, than by doing, and that real experience, will help to determine which area of cosmetology you have a real passion for. Maybe you love it all and find that being an all round cosmetologist is the career for you. Or maybe, you feel like you really shine at nail art and want to be a manicurist.

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

2. Don’t Avoid The Difficult Elements
You may find some of the techniques and theories difficult to wrap your head around, but you should never avoid them. When you can, take some extra time to really get to grips with them. Get some of your fellow cosmetology students together to help you, and return the favor — this will be a fun and enjoyable way to study. So, tackle those difficult subjects and don’t be afraid to ask your instructors if you need a little extra help.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice
To get the most out of your beauty school experience, don’t limit your learning to the ‘classroom’. Practice outside of salon hours to really hone those skills. You won’t have a shortage of volunteers, after a great new up-do, or special makeup for a night out. And if you have worn out your list of volunteers, just keep pestering them, until they give in.

4. It Takes 100% Dedication
Beauty school is intense. There is a lot to learn and not an infinite amount of time to do it in. You will need to have real dedication and commitment to make sure you stay on track and don’t find yourself getting left behind. In the times you feel yourself on the point of being overwhelmed, remember the passion that made you join beauty school in the first place. Channel that passion into your work, and you will reap the rewards of your dedication.

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

5. How Much You Will Learn
You will learn such a wide variety of information and skills at beauty school. For example, you won’t just learn how to cut, style and color hair, you will also learn the science behind different hair types, growth etc. You will learn the science behind nails and skin too, giving you a real understanding of the products and techniques that will work best. You will have such a wealth of information when you finish beauty school, that you won’t be able to wait to put it into practice.

6. The Expenses
Most beauty schools include the cost of your beauty kit in with the price of admission. If you are worried about the cost of a cosmetology course, get in touch with your chosen beauty school as they may have some financial aid available to you, depending on your situation.

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

7. Your Instructors Will Always Be There For You
Your instructors know just what it feels like to be a cosmetology student, so they understand exactly what you are going through. They want to help you succeed, both in your studies and following your graduation. Their commitment to you doesn’t end with your studies, they will be more than help you with networking and making connections in the industry.

8. You Will Discover Creativity You Didn’t Know You Had
Like many beauty school students, at some point you are going to question yourself, wondering if you really have what it takes. If you have that dedication and passion, you can be sure that you will discover a level of creativity you didn’t know you possessed. You will have so many ideas for new makeup looks, and hairstyles etc. that you will have to keep a note of them all, so you can try them when you have time. You will feel such pride, every time you create something that makes your client smile. And why shouldn’t you,it is an achievement.

How to make going back to school at 30 possible

9. You Will Form Bonds That Will Last A Lifetime
Going through beauty school with fellow students is a real bonding experience, and you are likely to make friends that will last a lifetime. You will help each other, be shoulders to cry on for each other when you are struggling with a technique, and share in each others triumphs when you pass an exam or get a look just right. You won’t just form bonds with your students, but you will also form pretty solid relationships with your clients. This will not only benefit you socially, but it will also give you a loyal client base once you start your career.

10. It Would Be The Best Decision I Ever Made
So few people get to express their creativity and indulge in their passion on a daily basis. Beauty School gives you the opportunity to do that. You yourself embarking on a career that is never stagnant —there are always new hair and beauty trends to learn, and new styles to try, plus each client is different. If beauty is your passion, going to beauty school will be the best thing you have ever done.

Why not indulge your love for all things cosmetology at Ogle School.

Related

Becoming a lawyer isn’t easy for anyone. It takes several years of intense schooling, a willingness to slog away at drudge work while you learn the ropes, and some significant analytical and critical-thinking skills. The process can be especially daunting for those entering into practice after the age of 50. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a six percent increase in positions for lawyers between 2018 and 2028. While the additional life experience can be an asset in some ways, age can also be an obstacle. It can be done, however, if you have the drive and commitment to put in the work.

Law School at 50+ Years Old

Most law schools require applicants to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. If you’re older than 50, chances are you earned your degree many years ago. If you do need to go back and earn a degree, no specific major is mandatory, but courses in math, English, philosophy and logic can all be useful. Law schools accredited by the American Bar Association usually recommend applicants to take the Law School Admission Test, which evaluates the candidate’s logical reasoning, analytical reasoning and reading comprehension.

Successful applicants spend three years in law school, gaining exposure to broad areas of practice such as constitutional law, criminal law and civil procedure. Students learn to research and argue cases through simulated trials, or by volunteering or interning at legal clinics or law firms. After graduation, lawyers must pass their state’s bar exams before they will be permitted to practice.

Life Experience

Older law students are typically entering at least their second career, and often a third or fourth. That depth of life experience can be an asset because older students are likely to stay focused during law school. It’s also helpful in the real-world practice of law, where former accountants can practice tax law, for example, and nurses or physicians can use their expertise in healthcare-related cases.

In addition, a mature lawyer can usually draw on a well-established network of business relationships to build a clientele. On the other hand, many firms are wary of hiring older lawyers, so be prepared to face special challenges during the hiring process.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Michigan lawyer Tom Weiss took his bar exam a week before his 52nd birthday. Previously a sailor, banker and hotel manager, Weiss found he was much more motivated as a mature student. “I was eager to go back to school, and ready to excel,” he recalls. He graduated with honors from Michigan State, but finding work proved challenging. “I really hit it off with the recruiters,” he says, “but I wasn’t getting any offers.” He found that firms tend to hire younger graduates who are more malleable and willing to work extended hours. “It’s easier to get in with a small firm,” he said.

Getting Established

Do some diligence before you start carpeting HR people with resumes. If that prestigious firm only hires from top-20 schools and you didn’t go to one, skip them and move on. Talk to lawyers at firms that interest you, and ask about their hiring processes. If you have specialized knowledge, look for firms that could use your expertise and format your resume in a way that highlights your relevant experience. If you once worked as a human resources manager, for example, seek out firms that specialize in labor law. Sell your experience, contacts and maturity as competitive advantages.

If you opt for solo practice, draw on the contacts you’ve made in your previous career and personal life. If you once worked in the real estate business, for example, contact realtors you know for their mortgage business. If you know entrepreneurs, offer your services for contracts, partnership agreements and succession planning.

Making the Jump

Becoming a lawyer after 50 isn’t a decision to take lightly, but there are many successful lawyers who started late. At a time when other people are enjoying their highest-earning years, you’d be starting over in direct competition with people who are 25 or 30 years younger. Make sure you understand what you’re getting into.

Talk to law schools and lawyers in your area – ideally lawyers who’ve made the same transition from other careers, regardless of their age. A law degree can be a useful qualification even if you don’t end up practicing law full-time. The education can also be a pleasure in its own right.