Going Back To College at 30: Is It Too Late?

Going Back To College at 30: Is It Too Late?

There are many people who are unable to start college at 18 or 19 and do so much later when they are about 30 years old. Each of us has a unique life path which may not always be the customary traditional path, which is perfectly ok.

It is perfectly cool to go back to college at 30 and you will do great in college. But for a good life and career after graduation, you need to identify an affordable college and a good college major you are interested in that will provide a good salary and job opportunities.

Be realistic in your career expectations as there will be competition from younger professionals who may be ahead of you in the workplace. As long as your focus is on a good job you will enjoy and with a comfortable salary, your career will be just fine.

College At 30: Is It Worth It and How To Go About It

Doing college when you’re 30 years old is certainly a good thing. You still have many years ahead of you to build a beautiful life and career. As a nontraditional college student, you will have some unique challenges but many of those can be easily overcome.

The good news is that as someone at 30, you will have more life experience, maturity and realistic expectations. These will come in very handy as you navigate college up until graduation and as you start your career.

College at 30: Overcoming Emotional Challenges

Though its perfectly fine to start college at 30, it all starts with how you feel about it. There will obviously be some people who will encourage you and others who will mock you for trying to start college at this age.

You yourself might feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to study hard and have serious doubts on whether you can even succeed with rigorous college courses and schedules.

Just acknowledge the fear and know that there are many students in the exact position as yourself who have been successful doing college at the age of 30. Remember that once college is completed, it will open up many job opportunities and a better life for you.

As you reenter college, you will find that there are many other students of your age in your own classes and throughout college. So relax and make this college experience an interesting and positive learning experience for yourself.

College at 30: Logistical Challenges

What are your current schedules and responsibilities and how will you handle the extra workload of college work? If you are currently working, you will be better off choosing an online degree, or a degree completion program that can accommodate online courses, testing out, unlimited transfer of credits and other means of earning college credits,

If you are not working and have no other major priorities, how will you pay for college? Many scholarships may be out of your reach but you can still apply for FAFSA and see if you can get any scholarships or low interest federal loans.

Is It Worth It?

A college degree in an in-demand field will lead to a good career after college. Take a look at this Education Pays 2021 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This report shows that someone with a bachelors degree would earn a minimum annual salary of $64,032, whereas someone with just a high school diploma would earn a salary of about $38,882.

Adult Student College Graduation
 Adult Student College Graduation

In-demand occupations in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields have much higher salaries above $80,000 and many of them of about $100,000.

With so much data to show how important a college degree is to your financial well being, you will find college to be very much a worthwhile investment of your time and tuition money!

College Majors with Job Demand

To identify in-demand fields that tie in to a college major, take a look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook. This lists all occupations in the US, along with the number of job opportunities and typical salary for the occupation.

As you can see from the BLS occupations, there are many fields that offer a superb salary. All you need to do is to identify a field or major that you can easily relate to, that you’re interested in and which requires a college degree, and that has a great or good median salary for that occupation.

College Major
                   College Major

In case you’re having trouble identifying which occupations would relate to which college majors, click on a specific occupation such as say for Chemical Engineers to have a detailed description of what chemical engineers do on a daily basis.

You can also speak with the college’s career counselors to ensure that a college major you choose ties in nicely with a few in-demand occupations in the BLS occupations report.

Career Challenges and Finding Success

The biggest drawback of college at the age of 30 is that there will be others whose careers will be ahead of you by 5 to 10 years. But if you choose a well paying in-demand college major, then you will be much ahead of many of your peers who might have completed college much sooner but in less in-demand fields such as Teaching or Interior Designing.

Career Challenges
      Career Challenges

But once you complete a college degree in an in-demand college major, you will find increasing job opportunities with a good to great pay scale and with an enjoyable work environment.

There will of course be some bosses and managers some of whom might be younger than you by a few years. If you don’t make a big deal of this, no one else will and you can continue to have a great career for the next 30 or more years.

The Importance of Affordable Tuition

As of 2022, 48 million borrowers have student loan debt with an average debt of around $37,000. Though there has been the recent student loan forgiveness program, a very small percentage of students actually have their student loans forgiven.

To make life easier for yourself and to reduce the burden of student loan payments, try to attend a college which charges much less in tuition. Choose an affordable college such that you can comfortably pay the tuition fees with a parttime job or a small scholarship or a federal student loan if there is no other way.

Try to avoid taking student loans, or reduce the amount of student loans you have to take and remember to give preference specifically to federal student loans if you have to take out loans.

Affordable College Tuition
                     Affordable College Tuition

Also attend a college with reduced tuition and lesser additional charges so you can afford college more comfortably. In any case, do not give up the opportunity to complete a college degree, especially in an in-demand field so you are job-ready upon graduation.

Students Who Found Success With College At 30

Since 1971, over 200,000 adult students have earned their college degrees from Excelsior college, at an average age of 36. Combining a conservative estimate of graduates of all other adult degree completion colleges, there have been over a million adult students in their mid to late 20’s, 30’s and beyond who have earned their college degrees and successfully started their career.

Interview Success
         Interview Success

Here are a few student profiles of Excelsior College graduates who found career success after completing their Bachelors degree using Excelsior’s online courses and degree completion program (as published in Excelsior College Magazines 2015 to 2021):

Initially starting in the restaurant industry and then after starting his career in healthcare in 2007, Steven Corey finally earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Excelsior college in 2014 and his Master’s degree in Nursing in 2017. He was eventually promoted to the position of assistant vice president of the Emergency department at the Albany Medical Center.

William Hoffman completed his BS in Computer Information Systems in 1993 and has been working as of 2014 as the senior director, consulting for Microsoft corporation.

Kenisha Thompson completed her BS in Liberal Arts in 2007 and further went on to complete her MS in Instructional Systems. As of 2009, she has been the CEO of Keni Consulting LLC.

Finding Affordable Tuition Colleges

Some online colleges are more affordable than others. But degree completion colleges not only support college online courses, but also external online courses that are less expensive, standardized tests such as CLEP/DSST/AP, and even evaluate work experience for college credits.

Therefore, with the ultimate in flexibility of how college level learning is evaluated from many affordable external sources, degree completion colleges provide the most affordable way in America to earn a college degree.

Affordable prices of college
      Affordable prices of college

You can find a descriptive list of affordable degree completion colleges below:

1) Top 25 Degree Completion Programs

2) Top Affordable Colleges You’ve Never Heard Of

For a detailed description of how degree completion colleges work, have a look at I Need To Finish College: Degree Completion To The Rescue

How To Ignore Naysayers And Start College

There will always be some people in your life who will have a negative outlook on things you do for some reason or another. This could be either parents, aunts, uncles, cousins or other acquaintances.

But similarly, there will also be others who will continuously encourage you to do well and better yourself. These could be at times some parents, certain relatives, grandparents or close friends.

Ready, Steady, Go
       Ready, Steady, Go

The best way to succeed in life is to accept the encouragement of the supportive people in your life and to ignore or keep away from those who have only negative things to say to you. Anyone that makes you consistently feel less about yourself should be ignored or avoided.

Once you keep positive company and keep off from negative ones, many good things will happen in your life and with some hard and smart work, you will be able to comfortably complete college in your 30’s.

Handling Competition and Emotional Challenges

Since you will complete college in your 30’s and entering college around 34 or 35, you will likely work with some people in their 20’s or 30’s who could be your bosses or supervisors. Just know that at work, the person’s responsibilities, experience in that field and job title carry the highest value and not the actual age of that person.

Companies care mainly for what value and revenue each person adds to the organization, which is primarily determined by their skills and proven work experience over the years.

Once you are very clear on this, you can easily build great working relationships with all your colleagues at work, whether they are peers or managers.

It could happen at times that someone you knew from high school or from your neighborhood during childhood may land up as your boss. Just be realistic and be kind and humble with them and this matter of age will be taken lightly and forgotten in a few weeks.

Once you are comfortable and perform well in this situation, the fact that you have known that boss years ago can work to your advantage as they will trust you even more and give your better work opportunities.

It’s all a question of your attitude and how well you are able to smoothly handle your emotions as you transition from college in your 30’s, to your career in your mid to late 30’s.

Job Opportunities in STEM Fields

STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) have the maximum number of job opportunities with good to great salaries. Many of the job positions in STEM also have considerable industry growth.

STEM Field and Education
       STEM Field and Education

This is indicated by the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook where you can search for jobs with high growth, and by pay scale and that require a bachelors degree. Use the Select Occupations By and enter your criteria in the relevant fields for this search.

To see multiple occupations in a particular field or industry, choose an Occupation Group from the list on the left of the web page. For further in-depth information on select occupations, take a look at the following:

Computer Science/ Engineering/ Technology

Growth Rate: Much faster than average

Salary Range: $80k to $140k+

Degree Required: Bachelor’s degree or higher


Growth Rate: As fast as average

Salary Range: $80k+

Degree Required: Bachelor’s degree

Business Management

Growth Rate: As fast as average

Salary Range: $60k+ to $160k+

Degree Required: Bachelor’s degree

Important Note: A few occupations require property managers, lodging managers or food service managers only require a high school diploma or associate degree but they also have the lowest salary at about $60k.

The highest salary in business management is specifically available to the following occupations:

1) Computer Systems Managers: $160K

2) Engineering Managers: $152K

3) Marketing Managers: $133K

Data Analyst

Growth Rate: Much faster than average

Salary Range: $100K+

Degree Required: Bachelor’s degree

Construction Managers

Growth Rate: Faster than average

Salary Range: $99K

Degree Required: Bachelor’s degree

Veterinary Technician

Growth Rate: Much faster than average

Salary Range: $38K

Degree Required: Associate’s degree

Transferring Credits And Faster College Graduation

Since you are entering college at 30, it will be even more helpful for you to finish college as soon as possible, so you can start working and start earning a good salary to support yourself. So any way by which you can complete college faster will be to your advantage.

If you previously completed any college courses, or learnt anything formally, you can submit those certificates to your college during enrollment for transferring those credits to your new college transcript. The college will evaluate the course content in relation to how well they match the college’s own degree curriculum and transfer credits accordingly.

If you had informal learning such as perhaps you have some volunteering experience, or other learning that you can document clearly with some testimonials or references, such learning can earn you college credits via a portfolio assessment.

If you learnt anything on your own and have personal knowledge in that subject matter, you can easily take CLEP or other exams to validate that learning and earn valuable college credits quickly and for a reduced cost.

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