What is the average age of college graduates?

What is the ideal age to study for college? We at CollegeOnomics are dedicated to supporting students with their college goals irrespective of their physical age. College students come in all age ranges and life stages and it is difficult to pinpoint an average age for college graduates or college students.

Two Life Stages for College

There are 2 periods in a person’s life that are more suitable for college studies than other times. The 1st one is right after high school, and the other is much later in life after all the kids have grown up and left home.

These are two times when the demands on a person’s time is somewhat lesser. In the 1st case, you would probably still be living with your parents and would likely have minimal family responsibilities. So there would be ample time to focus on college studies.

In the latter case, most of a person’s obligations and responsibilities are generally over, and there are unlikely to be any family obligations that would interfere with college. Even if there are work duties, at this later stage, most work would be more easily manageable.

But the biggest bang for the buck comes in the 1st case, as the person is relatively young, and completing a college degree early on would add fuel to one’s career and help increase the income potential.

Average Age of College Students

It is also true that nowadays, college students come in all the different age groups. Some of them are still teenagers of around 16+, then there are many in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and even their 60’s.

In my case, I completed an equivalent of an associate degree, and then my bachelors while in my 20’s. And many years later, in my late 30’s with a family et al, I completed my Masters degree.

When Should you Start College?

Each phase of life brings upon us a series of different challenges. For example, when one is still single and living with parents, stress about college tends to be high. But a lot of the basic food, clothing and shelter gets automatically taken care of.

Many parents pay for their youth’s college degree, at least until the kid has a suitable income of his or her own.

When a student is in the 20’s or 30’s, and married with kids, college can be very tough to handle. College studies frequently take a back seat while attending to the family, diaper changes for the little ones, loss of sleep and so on.

There is increasing evidence to suggest that a nontraditional student has been the typical undergraduate college student in the US ever since 1999 and over the years until the present times.

Average age of college graduates with a family and kids

Money also gets extremely tight here, as most people like to be independent and do not ask parents for help after moving out of their parental home.

Job and College

Having to hold a full time job, while tending to a family and also studying for college is as challenging as climbing the Mount Everest multiple times, over a period of many years until degree completion! Paying for college tuition along with so many other household expenses is not easy at all.

Another point to note is that scholarships are easier to obtain when someone is studying full time. For part time students, there is generally very little financial aid opportunities.

This situation is being faced by many cash-strapped community college students who are forced to take up full time work while enrolled in college as part time students.

For those who are not living with their parents but working full time, it is possible to get scholarships to support college studies, as long as they are a student in the same state where they’ve recently lived in.

When speaking with students, I found out that they are able to handle their living expenses and college expenses much better when studying full time, and by working part time.

Some might be lucky enough to have some parental support and therefore be able to study full time, and then have their parents pay some of their living expenses.

Kathryn McCormick

Single parents in their 20’s or 30’s have it the toughest. There is a well documented case of Kathryn McCormick, a single mom of 2 kids who was working as a waitress for about 35 hrs a week, while studying in a community college. One of her kids was going to school and the other one was under the age of 3.

There is a video of how she was struggling to raise her kids, and her financial difficulties, while going to college and working for a minimum wage at a restaurant.

She quit college early on when she got married and moved with her husband who was in the army. Then getting back to completing college became a nightmarish task that she had never imagined.

Kathryn is just one of 1000’s of such single moms who make it through almost impossible odds to raise a family single-handedly while undertaking college.

College Is Challenging

So looking at all these people at different stages in life, it seems like it is never really a great time for college. When one is young and right out of high school, college can be a lot of fun, and even more fun if the parents are paying for the college. Then their kid would not have to keep paying off the student loans for years and years after college graduation.

But the disadvantage at this age is that the student at such a young age is more likely to be naive and inexperienced. Many young college students do not even know what they want to study in college.

So many of them undertake a college degree without even knowing why they are choosing say history over mathematics. There are also many students who start college, but are so unprepared for it that they never complete their college degree.

Best Time for College

Ultimately, it seems that the best time for anyone to do college is when they are most determined and interested in doing so. A strong motivation for getting a college degree can do wonders!

There are going to be some hurdles and challenges along the way, but if you as a student have the perseverance and energy for it, it will be very much possible to complete college.


I’ve developed this site such that anyone young or old is able to complete college for very little money and in a few short years. Individual circumstances vary and so does the average age of college graduates.

Through this website, I’m dedicated to supporting your college goals, so you can complete college in the shortest time possible and for the least amount of money (and with little to no reliance on student loans!).

For more information on completing a college degree in a short time frame, refer to the article on Completing an Accelerated Degree Completion Program Online.

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