Historically, most college students have been young adults in their late teens and early 20s. It’s practically a given these days for young people to go to college. But what about the older generations that didn’t have the same opportunities and expectations?

A growing number of adults aged 50+ are following their ambitions and going back to school to create new lives for themselves during their golden years.

Today, people are living longer, and many older Americans see retirement age as time to make their dreams a reality. But what are the factors driving this trend, and what can ambitious seniors expect when they make the bold decision to go back to school? Let’s take a look.


Seniors Have a Lot to Look Forward to!

These days, healthcare is more effective than ever, and we’re living longer as a result. People over the age of 50 now lead active, vibrant lives and have a lot to look forward to.

It makes sense to upgrade your skills and keep working if you enjoy what you do and could use the money (and let’s face it, who can’t!). There’s a growing demand for people with degrees and tech skills in the workforce, and seniors can launch a satisfying second career by investing in their education.

Another argument for going back to school later in life is the impact it can have on your life expectancy. Global lifespans are on the rise, and education can make a big difference in how long a person lives. Surprisingly, holding a college degree can increase your lifespan significantly.

A Maryville University resource highlighting attending school after 50 notes that men with bachelor’s degrees lived 12.9 years longer than those without a degree. Women lived an average of 10.4 years longer.

Seniors who go back to school to complete a degree will not only have a chance to fulfill their dreams, but they’ll also probably have more time to do so.


Going Back to School Can Make You Healthier and Wiser

Older students can gain more benefits than an education and improved job prospects by going back to school. Attending college can also have massive health benefits and positively affect overall well-being.

Seniors who continue learning late in life have the opportunity to stay sharp and exercise their brains in challenging and stimulating ways. Challenging yourself with education can help you stay independent, healthy, and empowered.

The social component of going back to school can also make a difference in long-term health and happiness. Making new friends, engaging in academic discussions, and getting out into the world can help you stay healthy, wise, and engaged with the world.

This can have a major positive impact on both your physical and mental health.


The Dollars and Cents of Going Back to School

Obviously, going back to school is an investment that can be scary for seniors who may be on a limited income. Ambitious older students need to think about the financial implications of enrolling in a college or university program.

Although degree holders make much more annually than high school graduates, some programs are more likely to create a return on investment than others. Making smart decisions about what to study can help justify the cost of an education and set you up for financial success late in life.

If you’re worried about your finances when going back to school, take some time to make a budget and understand the investment you’re making.

Creating new financial goals and understanding the full cost of going back to school and your potential earnings will help you understand if it will be necessary and worthwhile to borrow money and allow you to make a plan for how to afford your new educational journey.


Pursue Your Dreams

If you think you’re too old to pursue your dreams, think again. More and more people over 50 are saying yes to an education and using their retirement years to live fulfilling and active lives.

If you dream of graduating, don’t let your age hold you back. There are so many benefits to going back to school in your golden years. And these days, you’re likely to meet students your own age and develop rich friendships.

Invest in yourself and follow your dreams — you’ll be glad you did.


Ted Lee is a higher education researcher focused on the continual merger between education and technology. Lee’s current focus is on the online education sector and how various online programs and learning platforms can help develop a more educated and informed society.

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