In the last fifteen years, the demographic profile of the average American college student has changed considerably. The number of students pursuing a bachelors degree increased from 15 million every year in 2000 to more than 20 million in 2015; some studies indicate that as many as 8 million college students are over the age of 25.
The majority of students who graduate from college say that having a college education has contributed to their financial success: experts say that not completing a bachelors degree could cost the average worker up to $500,000 in lost wages and employment opportunities over the course of their careers. Older students who struggle to make ends meet without a college degree may be more motivated to return to school and to complete their secondary education.
In general, people who earn a bachelors degree make $45,000 or more, and studies consistently demonstrate a clear connection between educational achievement and financial success. Adults who are thinking of returning to college in Rhode Island may find that colleges have a well-developed understanding of older students’ needs.
For example, many colleges across the country offer babysitting services to students with young children. Men and women looking at college in Rhode Island — and in every state across America — may be pleasantly surprised to find that some colleges tailor their programs specifically to attract students over the age of 25. Older students continue to post high graduation rates; colleges that offer interdisciplinary studies, babysitting, flexible schedules, and credit for life experience may find their degree programs in high demand.
Whether older students are considering returning to college in Rhode Island or in another state, they are advised to plan ahead. Finding scholarships online that are tailored to older students can help lower students’ tuition bills, but students should understand that the application process for some scholarships can take up to one year. Financial assistance may also come from a student’s workplace, but students are advised to allow ample time for the application process.
Taking the time to understand each college’s academic requirements can also help save money on tuition: students may find that they qualify for credit based on their work history. Older students with previous college credit may find that their credits are too old to transfer; developing a realistic timeline for the completion of a degree is of paramount importance for students of any age.
In general, college students who have been a productive part of the workforce make good students. While some younger students may not have fully developed their work ethic, adults who have worked and who are confident in sharing their opinions should do well in the structured environment of higher education. Keeping career goals in mind and allotting enough time for scholarship applications is essential, experts say.
Students who take advantage of job referral programs, internships, and alumni networking opportunities may be surprised to find that they are meeting or exceeding their own financial goals. In an economy that will soon face worker shortages in health care and technology, finding academic success must continue to be the most important educational goal for students of every age.