Some people may think going back to school at 50 is silly, but, in reality, it’s a popular choice. In fact, older students have become the fastest growing demographic at colleges around the country. Whether you want to switch careers, finally get your degree, or just learn something new, going back to school at 50 can be a great choice.
But if you’re thinking of going back to school at 50, you need to do your homework long before your get to the classroom. After all, you’ll be competing with the new generation. Learn about all of the admission requirements. Figure out if you need financial aid. And ask yourself if you want to take classes online, or if you’re interested in physically returning to community college or a four-year university.
When it comes to going back to school at 50, many older students have some fears, especially older women. For older women, going back to school can mean that you’re the “mom” figure in class – the student who is actually older than the professor, and the one who causes other students to get quiet and start minding their manners.
But for many older women, going back to school is important enough to overcome any fears. Some women simply want to graduate, after giving up their degrees long ago to get married and have children. Or, they want to change careers. Or, they just want to learn something new now that the kids have grown up and moved out.
If you’re an older student who is thinking of returning to community college, many schools are making it easy for you. The American Association of Community College has created a “Plus 50” learning program. Participating schools are learning how to meet the needs of older students by helping them with their computer skills, helping them apply for financial aid, and even helping them locate old transcripts.
And, if you’re thinking about becoming an older student, you don’t have to let money become one of your fears. There are plenty of grants for going back to school, including:
-Many individual colleges offer special grants for students who never went to college after high school -There are Veterans’ grant programs if you spent time in the military -Federal Pell Grants are available for students of any age; all you have to do is meet certain income requirements -There are grants geared towards older women going back to school, whether you already have a degree or not -Many cities and towns offer special grants for older students, so check with counselors at your school to see what opportunities exist.