What’s the Best College for Adults Returning to School?

These are Our Top Colleges if you are Returning to School

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." - C.S. Lewis

To determine what college is best for adults returning to school mainly depends on what major you are trying to pursue. Different colleges have different majors and certain colleges may offer a better program for certain majors. A good way to look at this would be based on which colleges have good programs for adults returning to school. The classes that adults returning to school need to take may be slightly different than the other classes offered at the colleges. 

You will want to start off by looking at the benefits of going back to school and what it could mean for your career. You will have to consider if you want to attend schooling purely online or if you want to be on-campus. As an adult learner, some of the benefits you could gain from going back to school include job opportunities, promotions, or raises.

What to Consider When Deciding to Go Back to School

There are certain questions you should consider when deciding if you want to go back to school. Mainly you should consider how education may impact your career. The other questions to consider include:

  • Will a degree help your current career?
  • Will a degree help you start a new career?
  • How long do you want to be in school?
  • How much time can you commit to school?

There are also a few other things to look into when deciding to go back to school as an adult learner. This includes understanding the requirements, scheduling a tour, connecting with faculty, researching campus resources, and looking into financial aid. A difference when deciding to go back to college as an adult is looking for a college that has an accreditation. These accreditations show that certain colleges offer a quality education. This is also very important for colleges that have online programs to have an accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Colleges with this DEAC accreditation offer the same educational experience to students on-campus and online.

A graphic showing the types of accreditations. 
Regional versus National accreditations to consider when deciding to go back to school as an adult learner. Image courtesy of LAFD.

The online college information source College Factual did research to determine which schools in the United States are the top tier for adults deciding to go back to school. Forbes has put together the list of the 10 great colleges for adults returning to school based on College Factual’s research. These 10 colleges include:

  1. Excelsior University
  2. Charter Oak State College
  3. University of Maryland - University College
  4. Thomas Edison State University
  5. Bellevue University
  6. Regis University
  7. Harvard University
  8. American Public University System
  9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  10. Trident University International

Make sure to remember that just because these are the top 10 schools for adults going back to school, it does not mean that there are not other great programs out there for adults returning to school. It is so important to remember that you make the right choice for you when deciding to go back to school, especially considering the amount of time you are able to attend school. 

It all boils down to figuring out which one is best for you and your needs. There are some colleges that offer certain majors while other colleges may not have those majors that you may be looking for. However, if you are having trouble figuring out a good starting point when deciding if you want to go back to school, this top 10 list can be it. There are a wide variety of factors to consider if you decide to go back to school, which includes what kind of college you are looking for (private or public). 

A graphic showing the pros and cons of private versus public colleges.
What are the differences between choosing a private college or a public college? Image courtesy of PrepExpert.

Excelsior University at a Glance

Although adult learners are not usually depicted as the typical college freshman, they make up a large percentage of university students. There is a report from National Public Radio which states that about 40% of all college students are 25 or older. The term adult learner can cover a wide variety of people, including people who dropped out of college earlier in life for military service, working full-time, or to help with raising their family. These adult learners can also be people who decided to not attend schooling right after high school graduation and are now deciding to go back to school. 

Either way, in all of these cases these people are great contenders for going back to college. Excelsior University is a great college to look at since they offer a wide variety of studies and have flexible online learning programs which can give adult learners the solution to going back to college and earning their degree. 

Excelsior’s Online Education

If you are interested in going back to school and need to complete schooling online, Excelsior has a vast range of associate and bachelor degree programs. Online classes allow adult learners to have more flexibility with when they view the course lectures and complete coursework. Having online classes makes it easier for adults going back to school to continue their education while holding down a full-time job. At Excelsior University, all these adult learners will need is a good computer connection, a vow to organize their academic schedule, and the continuous support of the faculty and staff. 

Tips for Going Back to School As An Adult Learner

As an adult learner going back to school you might face some different challenges than other students. Here are some tips to consider if you decide to go back to school

  • Choosing a school that best supports your needs
  • Brushing up on your skills
  • Organizing a good schedule to get everything done
  • Developing a support system
  • Finding a generous transfer policy

There are also certain benefits for choosing online learning which include flexibility, continuing career growth, growing self-discipline, improving soft skills, networking opportunities, and access to expertise. These are the things that can greatly affect your decision to go back to school as an adult learner. If you can work online, it makes it possible to go back to school while still working full-time. 

An image of a calendar on a desk with miscellaneous office supplies
Use a calendar or planner to keep organized and make sure everything gets done!

Boost your Chances of Enrolling in the Program You Want

There are certain things that you can consider to help boost your chances of enrolling in the education program you want. It can sometimes be difficult or tricky to apply to an education program because sometimes you will need to fulfill certain conditions to be a part of the program you want. However, there are several tips on how to best enroll in the education program you desire. These tips include:

  • Selecting the right program - Choose your program carefully since you will want to reach the highest levels of your career where you can apply your professional knowledge
  • Earning good grades in certain classes - these are not always an indicator of knowledge, if you are trying to enroll in a program they will be important - attend more challenging courses - have some extracurricular activities - dedicate yourself to the courses that will be beneficial towards your future career
  • Showing interest - take into account every single detail and demonstrate how interested you are in being a part of that program - find out what your desired program offers - prepare yourself for interviews - contact admissions representatives
  • The importance of recommendation letters - these reveal your grades, aspects of your character, and your achievements - Ask relevant professors to write you a letter of recommendation - usually education programs ask for two or three letters of recommendation
  • Checking your online presence - some serious education programs consider everything about potential candidates - Make sure your social media accounts are free of anything comprising and make sure to get rid of anything you would not want your college friends seeing - experts say to set your social media accounts to private - ensure there is nothing that could reflect negatively on you - have an appropriate email address
  • Staying motivated - It can require a lot of documents and papers to enroll in an education program and it can be time-consuming - do not let this discourage you - apply again, prepare better, and maybe seek out help from more experienced people

Popular Career Ideas for Adults Returning to School

There are certain career ideas that will be popular for a long time. The jobs that earn a lot of money tend to be more popular for a longer period of time. It is important to find a job that will last, but that does not mean that jobs that have a shorter life span are invaluable. There is a shortage of jobs due to the automation of many industries. The ideal career would be in something that would not get affected by automation, this way you will not have to worry about being unemployed. Here are a few of the careers that will be popular for a long time to come: 

  • Accounting
  • Banking
  • Military
  • Law enforcement

Remember that picking the right college that will meet your needs can be different for everyone, and just because one college is good for one person does not mean that same college will be the best fit for someone else. Pick which college will work the best to meet where you want to go with your professional life.  

Elizabeth Grobstein
Liz Grobstein is a writer based in North Huntingdon, PA.
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