How To Go Back To School As An Adult

Many adults realize every year that a college degree serves as a gateway to a better life and that online learning gives them an unprecedented opportunity to go back to school and further their education. While they don’t fit the typical profile of a college freshman depicted in movies and the media, adult learners make up a large percentage of university students.

How large a percentage? National Public Radio reports that about 40% of all college students are 25 or older. And the term “adult learner” can refer to a variety of people. For example, some students going back to school dropped out of college earlier in life. They may have left school for military service, work full-time, or to raise a family.

Others decide to go back to school and enter college for the first time long after high school graduation. Whatever the case, they all are excellent candidates for returning to college. Excelsior College, with its many areas of study and flexible online learning programs, can provide adult learners the solutions they need to return to college and earn their degree.

Online Education Makes a Difference

Online courses have opened the door for more adult learners to go back to school. They allow working adults to hold down a full-time job while furthering their education. They have the flexibility for when they view lectures and do coursework.

Excelsior College offers a wide range of associate and bachelor degree programs that give students flexibility in when and where they attend class. All they need is a computer connection, a commitment to organizing their academic schedule, and the ongoing support of Excelsior College faculty and advisers.

Excelsior College also offers a generous transfer credit policy. Adult learners who are returning to college should check the Excelsior College transfer policy to see if they can receive credit for courses they have taken.  Some students may earn credits by passing an exam. In either case, they can save time and money – and graduate faster – through the credit transfer program at Excelsior College.

Going Back to School: Tips for Adult Learners 

Adult learners face different challenges than other students. Some tips for adult learners who decide to go back to school include the following.

  • Choose a school that suits your needs. Online learning allows students from anywhere to go to the school of their choice. Pick a program that meets your academic and budgetary goals.
  • Brush up on skills. Before going back to class, brush up on what you already learned in areas you think could prove challenging.
  • Organize. If you take online courses, it makes it easier to schedule classwork around working a full-time job and your personal life. However, it’s important to create and stay with a good schedule that allows you to get everything done.
  • Develop a support system. Get friends, family, and everyone in the house onboard with your academic goals. That way they will understand, for example, that Mom is not always available during “school time” even though she is in the other room. They also can become the biggest cheerleaders for you as you strive to advance your education.
  • Find a generous transfer policy. As mentioned above, it’s important to get credit for what you have already learned. That’s why Excelsior College offers a generous transfer policy that can get you closer to earning a degree that much faster.
  • Benefits of Online Learning

Online college degree programs have become an accepted part of the nation’s educational landscape. They must meet the same high standards of accreditation as traditional programs. It’s smart to check a school’s accreditation status through the U.S. Department of Education.  Most employers today accept online degrees just as well as traditional ones, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The following are some of the areas where online learning provides great benefits.


Online courses offer far more flexibility than traditional courses. This is especially a benefit for working professionals who must schedule academic study around their busy professional and personal lives. Those with children also see tremendous advantages in online learning. Just not having to commute to class alone can make a big difference, especially for those in urban or high-population areas. 

Continue Career Growth

In most careers, a higher-level degree can open the door to better jobs and pay. In the past, professionals had to take time off to earn a degree. Now, online courses make earning a degree while maintaining a job doable. It also allows students to immediately apply what they learn in class immediately to their job.

Growing Self-Discipline

With online learning, you either have self-discipline or you learn it very quickly. Without having to physically attend class, students must organize their schedule and stick to it. Online students require organizational and time-management skills. Both are huge benefits of online learning because these skills will serve them well throughout their career.

Improving Soft Skills

Some may think that online learning is isolating, but quality online programs offer the chance to communicate not only with professors but also with fellow students. Because online classrooms have students from around the world, the chance to practice soft skills such as communication and collaboration are higher than in traditional classrooms.

Networking Opportunities

Chats, discussion boards and video conferencing allow students to communicate with each other. And with online degree programs, that can mean the chance to network with people from around the world. All college degree programs allow for great networking opportunities, but online learning can greatly expand your network’s geographic range.

Access to Expertise

Another reason online courses attract so many students is because of the access to expertise that students might not find in their local area. In some cases, nearby colleges may not provide the courses you want. But with online learning, you can find exactly the degree program you want, taught by professors who are experts in the field.