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Navigating the Return to Education at Age of 50: A Comprehensive Guide

Navigating the Return to Education at Age of 50: A Comprehensive Guide

By the time a person reaches 50, they have accumulated decades of invaluable life experience. Going back to school at age 50 is not uncommon, and many older students earn their degrees for various reasons. This comprehensive guide is designed to provide useful suggestions for navigating the return to education, ensuring a successful educational journey at age 50.

Key Takeaways

  • Returning to education at age 50 is a transformative journey.
  • Choosing the right university and program is crucial for academic success.
  • Consider online and in-person classes based on your preferences and goals.
  • Seek resources and support services tailored for older students.
  • Start the admission process early and research grants and scholarships.

Find the Right University

When returning to school at age 50, it is important to find the right university that fits your needs. As a non-traditional student, your educational journey is unique, and finding a university that understands and caters to your specific circumstances is essential.

Consider several factors when searching for the right university. One crucial aspect is accreditation. Look for an accredited college or university, as this ensures that the institution meets quality standards and is recognized by employers and other academic institutions.

Cost is another significant consideration. Evaluate your financial situation and explore scholarships and grants that may be available for non-traditional students. Additionally, consider the schedule flexibility offered by different universities, as this is important for managing your other responsibilities while pursuing your degree.

Universities that prioritize resources for older students can significantly enhance your educational experience. These resources may include dedicated support services, career guidance, and networking opportunities specifically tailored to the needs of non-traditional students.

Reach out to the prospective universities you are considering and ask questions to gather more information. Engaging with academic mentors can provide valuable insights into the available programs and resources that meet your individual needs.

Remember, choosing the right university sets the foundation for a successful return to education at the age of 50. Take the time to find an institution that supports your goals and aspirations, both academically and personally.

Find the Right Program

Choosing the right program is a crucial step when considering going back to school at the age of 50. It is important to find a program that aligns with your goals and interests, ensuring a fulfilling educational experience. Take the time to explore different disciplines and majors to determine what excites you and fits your defined goals.

One important consideration is flexibility. As a busy individual with family or work obligations, you need a program that offers flexible class schedules. Look for universities that provide options for evening, weekend, or online classes. Online programs can be particularly advantageous for older students, as they allow you to study at your own pace and within your own timeframe.

Universities like WGU understand the needs of working professionals and offer programs specifically designed for them. These programs provide the flexibility and support required to balance the demands of work, family, and education.

Remember, choosing the right program is a personal decision that should reflect your passions, goals, and current life circumstances. Take your time to thoroughly research your options, speak with academic advisors, and make an informed choice that sets you up for success.

finding the right program

By taking advantage of these grants and scholarships, you can reduce the financial burden and ensure that finances do not hinder your educational journey. Remember to thoroughly research each program, understand their eligibility requirements, and carefully follow the application process to maximize your chances of receiving the funding you need.

Take Care of Yourself

Your physical and mental health are pivotal to your academic success as an adult student returning to school at age 50. Prioritizing self-care is essential to reduce stress, avoid burnout, and maintain overall well-being. Here are some self-care practices that can support your wellness throughout your educational journey:

  1. Get sufficient sleep: Adequate rest is crucial for cognitive function and concentration. Strive for a consistent sleep schedule to ensure you feel refreshed and energized each day.
  2. Create enjoyable routines: Establishing daily rituals that you find pleasurable can make your journey as a student more enjoyable. Whether it’s a morning walk, reading a book before bed, or dedicating time for a hobby, incorporating these activities into your routine can enhance your overall well-being.
  3. Eat nutritious meals: Nourishing your body with a healthy diet provides the fuel you need to stay focused and maintain energy throughout the day. Prioritize balanced meals that include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  4. Avoid stressful situations: As an adult student, it’s important to identify and minimize sources of stress. Identify any triggers that may increase your stress levels and develop strategies to manage them effectively. This may involve setting boundaries, practicing relaxation techniques, or seeking support from friends and family.
  5. Allocate time for activities that make you happy: Engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment is crucial for maintaining a positive mindset. Whether it’s spending time outdoors, pursuing a creative hobby, or practicing mindfulness, make time for activities that promote your happiness and well-being.
  6. Stay connected: Building a strong support system is invaluable during your journey as an adult student. Stay connected with trusted friends, family members, or a mental health professional who can offer guidance, encouragement, and emotional support as needed.

Remember that self-care is not selfish; it is an essential component of your overall success as an adult student. By prioritizing your physical and mental health, you will be better equipped to navigate the challenges of returning to school and achieve your academic goals.

Be Aware of Time

Effective time management is crucial for busy adult learners returning to school at age 50. Balancing academics with daily life requires careful planning and prioritization. By implementing effective time management strategies, you can optimize your productivity and engagement in your education.

One of the key aspects of time management is setting aside dedicated study time. Create a schedule that allows for focused and uninterrupted periods of learning. This will help you maintain consistency and make progress in your coursework.

Another helpful approach is to set goals and milestones. Break down your coursework into smaller tasks and create achievable goals for each week or month. This will help you track your progress and stay motivated along the way. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small, to keep your spirits high.

Establishing a routine can also contribute to effective time management. Find a schedule that works best for you and stick to it. Having a routine helps create structure in your day and allows you to allocate time for other important activities such as family, work, and self-care.

Remember that effective time management is not just about being busy; it’s about being productive. Prioritize your tasks based on their importance and urgency. Identify the most critical activities and allocate your time accordingly. This will help you make the most of the time you have available.

time management

Benefits of a College Degree

Earning a college degree at age 50 can bring a multitude of advantages and open new doors in your career. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits that come with obtaining a college education.

Enhanced Credentials

A college degree provides strong evidence of your knowledge and expertise in a specific field. It serves as a testament to your dedication, discipline, and intellectual capabilities. With a degree, you gain a competitive edge in the job market, making you a desirable candidate for employers seeking well-educated professionals.

Increased Earning Potential

A college degree has the potential to significantly increase your earning potential throughout your career. Statistics consistently show that individuals with higher levels of education tend to earn higher salaries compared to those with only a high school diploma. By investing in a college degree, you can potentially enjoy a higher income and financial stability in the long run.

Improved Job Prospects

Having a college degree opens up a wide range of job opportunities that may not be available to those without higher education. Many employers have minimum educational requirements for certain positions, and a degree can give you a competitive advantage when applying for those roles. Additionally, a degree shows employers that you have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in your chosen profession.

Valuable Skill Development

A college education goes beyond the acquisition of knowledge in a specific field. It also helps you develop valuable transferable skills that are highly sought after in the workforce. These skills may include critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, teamwork, and time management. The development of these skills can enhance your professional performance and make you adaptable to various work environments.

Networking Opportunities

Colleges and universities provide excellent networking opportunities that can be valuable for your career growth. As a college student, you have the chance to connect with professors, industry professionals, and fellow students who may become your future colleagues or mentors. These connections can lead to internships, job offers, and valuable contacts within your industry.

Overall, earning a college degree at age 50 offers immense benefits that can positively impact both your professional and personal life. Enhanced credentials, increased earning potential, improved job prospects, valuable skill development, and networking opportunities are just a few of the advantages that come with obtaining a college education.


Returning to education at the age of 50 is a transformative journey that offers countless opportunities for personal and professional growth. Throughout this comprehensive guide, we have provided valuable insights to help you navigate the return to education and achieve academic success.

From finding the right university and program to balancing online and in-person classes, taking advantage of resources, starting the admission process early, researching grants and scholarships, prioritizing self-care, managing time effectively, and understanding the benefits of a college degree, you now have the necessary tools to embark on this educational journey with confidence.

As you embark on this new chapter in your life, remember to stay determined and resilient. Be open to learning from your experiences and embrace the challenges that may arise along the way. With dedication and perseverance, there is no limit to what you can achieve. Best of luck on your educational journey and congratulations for taking this important step towards personal and professional fulfillment!


How do I find the right university when returning to education at age 50?

When choosing a university, consider factors such as cost, schedule flexibility, and resources available to older students. Look for an accredited college or university and reach out to prospective schools to gather information.

How do I find the right program that aligns with my goals?

Explore different disciplines and majors to determine your interests and goals. Consider flexible class schedules and online programs for busy older students. Universities like WGU offer programs designed for working professionals.

Should I choose online or in-person classes?

It depends on your preferences, interests, goals, and schedule. Online classes offer flexibility and affordability, while in-person classes provide direct learning opportunities. Consider what fits best for you.

What resources are available for older students?

Many colleges offer resources specifically for non-traditional students, including skills workshops, counseling services, and peer groups. Research if the college you plan to attend provides preparatory courses or financial aid for older students.

When should I start the admission process?

Start the admission process as early as possible. Become familiar with admission procedures, gather important documentation, and speak with an admission counselor for guidance and support.

How can I research grants and scholarships for older students?

Research grants and scholarships specifically for non-traditional and adult students. Explore opportunities such as the Alpha Sigma Lambda Scholarship, American Legion Auxiliary Nontraditional Student Scholarship, ANTSHE Scholarship Program, Osher Reentry Scholarship Program, WGU Opportunity Grant, and WGU Back to School Scholarship.

How can I take care of myself while returning to school?

Prioritize self-care to reduce stress and maintain your overall health and well-being. Get sufficient sleep, eat nutritious meals, and engage in activities that make you happy. Stay connected with friends, family, or a mental health professional.

How can I manage my time effectively as a busy adult learner?

Set aside dedicated study time, create a balance between academics and daily life, and celebrate small victories along the way. Establish a routine and prioritize your time effectively for optimal productivity and engagement in your education.

What are the benefits of earning a college degree at age 50?

Earning a college degree enhances your credentials, increases earning potential, and improves job prospects. A degree equips you with valuable skills valued by employers and provides networking opportunities. It also boosts confidence and leads to personal growth.

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