Going Back to School At 40: Don’t Be Intimidated

Going back to school at 40 (and up) can be daunting. I saw how challenging this could be when I helped my dad get his degree at the age of 60. Some people at this age may find the technology and modern way of doing things not too difficult, but for others, the modern way of doing things can be challenging.

Don’t fear technology!

I helped my dad step by step in getting his old transcripts, applying to a college, enrolling in courses, keeping up with the courses, understanding the online system used for the courses, and applying for graduation. Though these tasks can seem cumbersome, there is definitely a light at the end and it is very doable.

Picking a Program

To begin with, knowing why you are going to college and what you want to accomplish there is key. The future is changing quickly and so are marketable degrees. Though you may have interests and it would seem like a good idea to do what you feel you are good at, consider all your options.

Choosing the right degree is important!

Make sure you do heavy research on the most marketable degrees and the jobs that are actually available in YOUR area. I always do an Indeed search to see if there are jobs available in that market when advising anyone on a certain degree. Do your research and narrow things down.

Applying to College

When you know what you want to do in terms of degree, applying to a school is the next best step. I always recommend community colleges because of how approachable and affordable they are. You get a more intimate experience with community colleges.

Don’t rush to go to a University!

When you have applied to a college and are accepted, an advising appointment will be the next step for you. Advisors are great at keeping you on track with what courses you need for the degree plan you have chosen. Utilize advisors and the career center for all your questions and guidance.

Also, make sure to fill out a FAFSA. This will ensure you get the most free money possible!

Enrolling in Courses and Using Online System

Finally, you are ready to enroll in your courses! Based on what your advisor has told you, choosing courses should be fairly simple. The thing to look out for now is finding time frames for courses that work for you. There are going to be courses offered by different teachers at different times so find one that works for you.

Courses are Flexible!

All of the important things you need to do (register, drop, check grades, view assignments) should be done on the school’s online system. In the orientation there should be information on how to navigate these particular systems. Do not be intimidated! There is endless help from the Student Success office.

Study Tips

There is no one way to study in college. I got my degree in Biology. My dad got his in Kinesiology. Although these subjects are super different, studying is essentially similar. I can write a whole post about study tips but I just wanted to mention some common things teachers do.

Always study Powerpoints!

Always pay attention to the teacher’s power points. I see a lot of people dismiss this and focus on a complicated text book. Usually, what the teacher finds essential is what they put in the power point. I go to the textbook as a resource after listening to lecture. I always watch posted videos, look at the assignments, and study the power points. Don’t get discouraged. Try to make things simple for yourself.


This is the most exciting part! Usually when you get closer to the end of your degree requirements, you will have an advising appointment. The advisor will always keep you on track so never worry about being thrown into college on your own.

You can do this!

You may have a graduation application to do on the online system, but other than that, it should be a proud moment with no issues. Going back to school at 40 doesn’t have to be scary. There is so much more to say on the topic of college success, and I plan to write more in the future. Feel free to contact me for ANY help you need.