13 Perks of Being a 30-plus Student

by Dawn Papandrea

The time has finally come – you're once again heading back to the classroom, either to finish what you started, or embark in a whole new career direction. So what should you expect this time around? After all, it's been over a decade since you took notes, crammed for an exam, or wrote a term paper. Luckily, with age comes wisdom that can be translated into the modern classroom. Check out 13 perks of going back to school as a 30-plus student.

1. It's all about you.

Day in and day out, you're taking care of things for other people – the kids, your spouse, your aging parents, your boss. But at the heart of your school journey is a personal and individual goal, and every time you crack open your books, you earn some "me time" extra credit.

2. Schools want you.

Gone are the days when adult students had to rearrange their whole life to attend class. Today's schools know that you can be busy and dedicated to lifelong learning, which is why they offer a variety of flexible options from night and weekend programs to accelerated degrees to courses that can be taken completely online.

3. Grown ups may get a head start.

All of those years of work experience can pay off in the form of credit for prior learning. If you've received corporate training, done volunteer work, or had other unique life experiences, you can see if your school of choice will let you skip some introductory courses. That may involve creating a portfolio, taking an exam, or other requirements, but you'll be a few credits closer to your degree completion.

4. Reap instant rewards.

Often, if you're attending school as an adult, it's to launch a new career or advance professionally. If that's the case, completing your degree can directly result in a new job title, a raise, or other professional rewards.

5. Help from the government.

There's no question that going back to school costs money, but Uncle Sam will help lighten your financial burden a bit with The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. The tax perk is designed to encourage adults to follow their back-to-school dreams. Read all about it at IRS.gov.

6. Get an instant career boost.

Oftentimes, schools host events and provide many free resources for those wise enough to take advantage of them. For instance, a career services office can help you retool your resume, on-campus job fairs can connect you with local businesses, and guest speakers can enlighten you with tons of industry insights. Staying after class can pay off!

7. Read between the ROI lines.

Yep, it's perfectly OK to expect a return on your educational investment. Just consider these Census Bureau statistics: Those with a bachelor's degree earned around $26,000 more per year than those with a high school diploma in 2008.

8. You can work your work connections.

So many companies have tuition reimbursement policies in place. Does yours? Even if it doesn't, inquire as to whether or not your employer would be willing to help finance your education.

9. No more writer's cramp.

Taking notes by hand is so 1990s! As an adult student of today's digital world, you'll get to plug in and log on as you learn, whether it's taking notes on your laptop or tweeting with your professor. Embrace the change, and get ahead of the technology curve among your own peers.

10. You have "what you know now" on your side.

The immaturity that sometimes goes with the territory of one's college years won't get in the way of your success as an adult student. After all, you've been out in the real world, you're spending your hard-earned money, and you have clear educational and professional goals (not just parents who are forcing you to go to school!). Self-motivation is the adult student's biggest asset.

11. Lead by example.

What better way to teach your children about the importance of an education that by letting them see you in action as a student? Model good study habits, do homework together, and celebrate as a family whenever someone – even you! – brings home a good report card.

12. Classmates equal connections.

Among the benefits of going back to school is the opportunity to connect with like-minded students in your industry of choice. You never know where that next job opportunity or client connection will come from, but since it's often about who you know, get to know your fellow classmates.

13. You're not alone.

The fact is there are more nontraditional students working toward degree programs than ever before. In fact, 15 percent of those enrolled in college as of 2007 were students age 35 or older, as reported by the Census Bureau. In other words, stop worrying about being "the old guy" in class – chances are you'll fit right in.

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Well it happened, you messed up. had no clue, and for all intent you are going to do it all over again. 13 more reasons to prove your are still and always will be a loser.
1. It's all about you.... Get over yourself. 12 more reasons on the way.
2. Schools want you. NO, They want your money...
3. Grown up gets head start? You're middle aged starting over. I call that second place and way behind.
4. Instant rewards? Fake job titles don't do it. More money will. If you fail again. will you go back, again?
5. Govt. help? This is the fundamental problem with america. Socialist bastards!
6. Same as 4 you embecile...
7.ROI lines. If you learned to read them first, you wouldn't be here. It's called running budget
8. You went back to school because of your employer. You are kidding right?
9. Brush up on your eubonic writing skills. We no longer care how you write. Let auto-write run your world.
10. If you had what you needed to know, when you needed to know it. You wouldn't be here. Relearning what you already should have known but didn't.
11. By this time your example loses all fallacy of hope as far as your kid is concerned. You are failed in their eye's already.
12. You don't need to spend money to make friends.
13. This is where you can break it down to obvious breakdowns in society due. How much longer before all the retirees head back to school. Seems normal to me...
14. Progressive writers using masonic numerology in their public writings to let their masters know they still do their bidding.

July 10 2011 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm in. 3 courses down, 7 to go, finishing with M.Ed. in March 2012, age 56

July 05 2011 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

if some one dosen't have a school not to writer englisch not haven a job how they can pay the bills and survive it this apply to all at age 54

April 11 2011 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am going back this summer and im 34 years old. I am not happy where I am right now and need a change.

April 11 2011 at 6:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wolverine000036's comment

I've heard so many success stories from people who have gone back to school later in life, and were able to change careers and advance professionally. Best of luck that it works out for you, too!

April 12 2011 at 9:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

graduated (after 13 years part time) with a BS in Management 2006 (age 47), now going for an AS in a technical field..., 9 more classes. There is another student my same age and the instructor enjoys having us recall his remember when moments!

April 10 2011 at 7:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to thoude3320's comment

Good for you! And it's so true that having a diverse class with students from different age groups helps make the discussion more interesting. Best of luck!

April 12 2011 at 9:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i'm 49 years old (50 in june) and am in a biology program in my junior year. Anybody can go back to school and change their lives.

April 10 2011 at 7:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I started a degree program in July 2010 and I am 57 years old. Surprisingly, there are more adults in my classes than high school graduates. Go figure... I'm having the time of my life!

April 10 2011 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jacqueline's comment

Jacqueline...I was just about to ask here, "What does anyone here think about 57?" (That's my age). Thanks for your comment.

April 10 2011 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I went back to school this year at the age of 38. I am attending classes in the morning and working in the afternoon and evening so there aren't too many older students in my classes. Yet, I still seem to fit in, even in my communications class where a group of classmates around 20 include me in most of their conversations. It's been interesting because it also helps me to communicate with my oldest daughter who will be 18 this year and going to college in the fall. I never thought she and I would be attending college at the same time though.

April 10 2011 at 5:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

These are all fabulous tips! Many adults worry about returning to school, when they are truly some of the most prepared and capable students of all.

April 10 2011 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know you guys have to fill space, but this whole piece reads like an ad for the for-profit schools that are currently taking students' money and returning no real benefit, educational, personal, or financial, while saddling either the student (or the government) with debt loads far exceeding the value of the education received

April 10 2011 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kroller225's comment

Thanks for your feedback. Unfortunately some of the latest headlines have shed a negative light on adult and continuing education on the whole because of the poor practices of a few. However, as some other commenters have attested, more and more college classrooms -- regardless as to whether they are for-profit, community colleges, or universities -- are addressing the needs of adult students. And that's a good thing, since according to recent data from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, a whopping 63 percent of jobs in the U.S. require some type of postsecondary education, more than double the percentage required in the mid-1970s.

April 12 2011 at 10:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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