How to Go Back to School at 30

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Are you considering going back to college at 30? Adulthood has a way of sneaking up on you around age 30. You may be married, having kids, and getting established in your career, and suddenly you’re questioning the future.

Going Back To College At 30

You may start wondering if you are headed in the right direction. Is this the career you want forever? Will you make enough money to support your family? Can you move up the corporate ladder?

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Having a college degree can put you in a better position to change careers, earn a promotion or make more money, but do you really want to be going back to school at age 30? Now is the time to decide!

Steps on How to Go Back to College at 30

Two women around age 30 returning to school

Once you’ve decided that you’d like to go back to school, it’s sometimes helpful to put together a list of action items. Here are some steps you can take toward your educational journey and learn how to go back to school at 30.

  1. Choose a Major. Whether you’re looking to change careers or start a whole new chapter of your professional life, the first step is choosing a major that fits your goals.
  2. Decide Online or on Campus. As a working adult, you may be looking for a more flexible schedule that accredited online colleges offer. If you are a learner who learns better in person, then you may want to consider an on-campus school.
  3. Research Schools. Once you have a major in mind, and a general idea of if you’re looking for online courses, on-campus courses, or a hybrid, you can start researching accredited schools.
  4. Apply. Now that you have a few schools that you’re interested in, it’s time to apply. It’s a good idea to follow the application instructions very closely and submit your application prior to the school deadline.
  5. Financial Aid. Going back to college at 30 can pose some financial risks. College tuition is a big expense. You may want to apply for financial aid to help cut down on your overall costs. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a great step in achieving your goals.
  6. Set a Schedule. Once you have everything in place, you can start thinking about your schedule. You may need a schedule that accommodates your work schedule or childcare schedule. Luckily, a lot of colleges offer flexible or online programs.

Going to college at 30 is a big decision, so it’s important that you know what you’re getting into. It’s important to try to have realistic expectations when it comes to getting your degree.

College work is hard and you’re likely to be working throughout to be able to pay your bills, but don’t let that stop you from chasing your dreams. Since you are 30, you may already have a job that can help pay for your education. By pursuing your degree online, you can continue working and earning that income while also continuing your education.

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A higher degree can help you get ahead in your field, take on more responsibilities and earn more money. Students who are going back to nursing school at age 30 may already have an associate’s degree but would like to work toward a bachelor’s to become a registered nurse or nurse’s manager. Earning a degree will likely position you for success in your current or new career.

Why Should I Consider Going Back to School at 30?

Students of age 30+ going back to college

Choosing to go back to school at 30 depends on your situation. Everyone has various reasons as to why they go back to school at any age. For example, some students may be searching for the best careers for moms going back to school. Here are some of the reasons why you may choose to go back to school.

  • Change Careers. You may choose to go back to school to earn a degree in a new field to change careers. Perhaps you’ve hit a dead end at your current job or you’ve found a new passion that you’d like to pursue.
  • Career Growth. Similar to changing careers, going back to school to advance your education can allow you to grow in your current career. If you hold an associate’s degree and you go back to school to obtain a bachelor’s degree, it may open up some new job opportunities for you.
  • Earn More Money. As you advance your education, you open yourself up to new jobs or even a promotion within your current job. For example, as a teacher, if you have your bachelor’s degree and go back to earn your master’s, most schools will increase your pay once you’ve finished your master’s. Earning more money can allow you to provide more for your family.
  • Sharpen Your Skills. Going back to school in your 30s is a great way to sharpen your skillset. You have already amassed over 10 years of on-the-job experience but maybe new technologies have been introduced, or new skills used in your profession. Going back to school can allow you to learn those new skills and help you be successful in your career.
  • Grow Your Network. When attending a college, either online or on-campus, you have the ability to interact with professors, like-minded students, alumni, and even professionals that are on the same career path as you. This allows you to gain knowledge, stay up-to-date on industry information, and make new contacts.

Whether you’re looking for a new career path, or just want to build your resume with the next level of your degree for your current career, going back to school is a personal decision.

Tuition Reimbursement Programs

Man in his 30s, getting a college degree

Since you are 30, you may already have a job that can help pay for your education. By pursuing your degree online, you can continue working and earning that income.

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But college is expensive, so it’s a good idea to look for financial assistance, too. At age 30, you are eligible for many of the same aid opportunities as other students as there is no age limit.

  • Employer Programs: Some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs to incentivize workers to continue their education and grow professionally.
  • Scholarships: Scholarships are free money that you won’t have to pay back, so spend some time searching and applying for them.
  • FAFSA: Don’t neglect to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Now that you’re 30, you won’t have to include your parents’ info, and you may qualify for even more assistance.

With the help of tuition reimbursement programs, the dream of going back to school at 30 can become a reality.

What are the Pros and Cons of Going Back to School at 30?

Man in his 30s, focused on his school lesson

As with most adult decisions, there are pros and cons to consider when it comes to going back to school at age 30.


  • You can earn more money as you may become a candidate for more prestigious jobs, including managerial or administrative roles.
  • A new degree can help you change career paths entirely.
  • While earning a degree, you can network with other professionals – professors, lecturers, industry leaders, and alumni.
  • You will gain increased knowledge in the field.
  • By pursuing a degree online, you can maintain your current career and family commitments.
  • At age 30, you have had more time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.
  • You may realize that going back to school is not just another layer of schooling, it is now for personal growth.
  • Some companies offer tuition help for those going back to school to sharpen their skills or obtain a degree. Check to see if your company will help with your goals.


  • Though it is flexible, earning your degree online will still require hard work and dedication. You will likely have to make some sacrifices.
  • Education has a price tag. You should complete the FAFSA and apply for scholarships, but know that you may still have hefty tuition bills or need to take out loans.
  • There are no guarantees for that new job or better paycheck.

Make sure to weigh the pros and cons as they affect your life, and decide what’s best for you, your family, and your future.

Is It Too Late to Go Back to School at 30?

30-year old student chatting with younger classmates

It’s never too late to go back to school at 30 or any age. You have possibly been out of school for over 10 years, and you can go back with fresh eyes and renewed energy for learning.

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Sometimes, right out of high school, college is just another step in your journey that can feel stagnate. When you go back to school at 30, you understand the importance of earning your degree and that can add to your determination. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you have a desire to learn new information or skills, you should chase your dreams.

Why Do People Go Back to School at 30?

Woman in her 30s went back to studying in college

People go back to school at 30 for various reasons. The reason is dependent on each person’s own situation. For example, someone may want to go back to school to further their education and obtain the next degree level.

If you have an associate’s degree, maybe you want to go back and get your bachelor’s degree. Alternatively, maybe you are looking to switch careers entirely. If so, you may need a new degree. If you are an accountant who wants to go into teaching, you’ll need a teaching degree.

Or, maybe you love your current career, but you’ve been doing it for a long time and could use some new skills to stay competitive. If so, you could go back to school to learn the newest information and skills required for your position and the overall industry.

Can I Still Work Full-time While Studying?

Two people in their 30s choosing programs in college
Yes, you can still work full-time while studying. When you go back to college at 30, you likely have a full-time job already. Thanks to online colleges, you can continue to work full-time while you’re back in school.

Online colleges have various options for working adults. They allow you to set your own schedule that works around your working schedule. Even if you attend college on-campus, most colleges do offer morning and night classes. While working full-time and studying, you may want to organize your schoolwork so you can study efficiently. You may also want to create a dedicated study space.

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It’s important to communicate with your professors and managers so everyone is on the same page. Try not to be afraid to ask for help. If you find yourself slipping behind due to work commitments, you can reach out to your professor for extra help or guidance. Working full-time while attending school requires dedication and commitment.

Is it Worth Going Back to School at 30?

Adults in their 30s going back to college

Yes, going back to school at 30 is worth it for many adult students. Those who earn a bachelor’s degree make an average salary of $78,580, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As a point of comparison, high school graduates with no college degree earn an average salary of $38,290 per year. Going back to school can also put you on an advanced career path with the next degree level for your profession, or jump-start an entirely new career based on your goals.

With a new degree, you could be eligible for promotions and higher-paying positions. The choice to go back to school is a personal choice based on your needs but can lead to not only career growth but personal growth and an increased skill set, too.

If you’re interested in going back to school at 30, start your journey today by researching accredited online colleges and various degree programs!

Ready to start your journey?
Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.