Going Back to School at 40 — You’re Never Too Old to Learn and Grow

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There are many reasons you may want to go back to school at a later stage in life, and the truth is, it’s never too late! Going back to school at 40 can seem daunting, but with the right mindset you can definitely achieve your dreams of getting an education or changing careers.


You’re not alone — many adults decide to continue their education, and do so successfully. Some common areas of study for adult learners are in healthcare, engineering, and nursing. We give you top tips for these areas of study, plus the best careers for moms going back to school and which careers are definitely worth your while.



Adult student at the University of the People reading a book

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Why Go Back to School at 40?

The benefits of going back to school as an adult are to pursue a career interest you might never have had the opportunity to pursue, or to get ahead in your career once you’ve realized you’ve hit a limit. As an adult who is in school or has recently graduated, you will feel a higher job satisfaction because you know you’re on the right track and have chosen the best path for you.



What to Expect

Going back to school at 40 is not without its challenges. You will need to make adjustments to your schedule in order to make time for school in addition to work and family. You should also expect to feel a bit out of place in your new academic surroundings, with so much time away from school. But you can draw on your previous life experiences to help you — you’ve likely been through a lot. Use your years of wisdom to help you overcome the feelings of uncertainty that come with going back to school for the first time.



Careers Worth Going Back to School For

The following careers have relatively low time to complete a degree or certificate, offer good pay, and some have flexible schedules:

  • Dental Hygienist
  • Medical Assistant
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychologist


Going Back to School at 40 in Healthcare


Adult student in healthcare

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Becoming a doctor later in life will not be without its challenges, but if it’s what you always wanted and you finally see an opportunity, you should take it seriously. Take time to weigh the pros such as increased salary and achieving your dreams with the cons like time, tuition cost, and ROI over your working years. You should also be aware that it might be harder to get residency placements as an older student.



Healthcare Administration


Healthcare administration is a great option for adults returning to school if they have similar admin experience and are looking to get into the healthcare field.


With University of the People, tuition is free so you are sure to get a great ROI on this degree! Not to mention the program is also fully online and flexible so you can fit your degree into any schedule. University of the People’s program uses an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on fields such as medicine, epidemiology, law, and economics so you’ll receive a well-rounded education as well.





Going back to school for nursing is another good option for a change in career. Nursing school takes two to four years, and nurse’s salaries are about $70,000 per year. Schooling can be done at night schools and at local community colleges or trade schools.



Medical Assistant


Becoming a medical assistant is a career change that can be achieved through flexible, affordable schooling options. Make sure your program is worthwhile, as salaries start at $33,000 per year.



Going Back to School at 40 for Engineering


Adult student in engineering

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Have you always dreamed about becoming an engineer but didn’t get the chance earlier in life? It’s never too late to achieve your dreams!


Do your homework first about different types of programs and which sector of engineering you want to go into. Different types of engineering include: medical, industrial, electrical, chemical, mechanical, aerospace, environmental, civil, software, and computer engineering. Salary varies by field and type, but generally, engineers can expect to make $86,000 – $124,000 per year.


If you decide that computer engineering if the right field of choice for you, consider a degree with UoPeople, where the degree is US accredited, flexible, online and tuition-free. University of the People offers associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in computer science, getting you well on your way to becoming the computer engineer you always dreamed of being!



Best Careers for Moms Going Back to School

As a mom, you inevitably have skills that others lack, as well as some special considerations or preferences when it comes to working hours and availability. Here are some great career options for moms thinking of getting back into school:


  • Teaching in any field
  • Marketing/Communications for digital marketing/social media management
  • Writing/Language for writing or copyediting
  • Mental Health Counseling which can be accomplished through a certificate or longer degree
  • Doula through a certificate program
  • Fitness Instruction through a certificate program



How to Balance School, Work, and Family


Parents with children balancing school and family life at University of the People

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The most important way to set yourself up for success as an adult going back to school is by making sure you have a clear plan for balancing school, work, and family. A good work-life balance will lead to less stress and ultimately, higher grades and student satisfaction.


Here are some top tips for balancing life as an adult student.



1. Get Organized:


Make a set schedule and calendar. Ensure that you have a list of all textbooks, materials, and class times before the start of your studies.



2. Make Time:


Put time aside for studying — make a set time each day or week that is your uninterrupted, unnegotiable study time.



3. Your Study Place:


Make sure you have a good study area set up that is free of distractions, has a good light source, and all the materials you need to be most productive.



4. Get Help:


Enlist the help of family and friends to help you stay on track with your studying and your academic goals.



5. Consider Online Classes:


Online classes and degree programs are much more flexible and conducive to students who already have a full life before studying.



Make Sure to Brush Up on Your Skills


Group of people brushing up on their study skills

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You’ll be in college soon, and it’s likely been a while since the last time you were a student. Spend some time in the months leading up to the program start date to brush up on your skills such as:


Hard Skills

  • Common formulas
  • Science theories
  • Business practices
  • Anything that will help you in your specific field of study


Soft Skills

  • Note taking
  • Presentation skills
  • Communication skills
  • Self-discipline
  • Study habits


Computer Skills

  • Familiarize yourself with the school’s online portal
  • Ramp up your typing skills
  • Get better acquainted with word processors and presentation platforms



The Bottom Line

Changing careers and going back to school at 40 is both exciting and scary. But if you research the right path and program for you before you start, make sure your skills are up to par and have a great plan for balancing your home, school, and work life, you will surely achieve your career dreams!