Not all students attend college immediately after graduating high school, and the number of adult learners is projected to increase in the future. Whether you’ve decided that you need to switch careers, earn a higher credential, or hope to turn unemployment into a benefit, many schools are receptive to older students. While scheduling concerns and finances are often the limiting factor in making the decision to return to school, there are online and part-time options for attending classes, which may be cheaper. You are also encouraged to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and search for private scholarships to help with tuition.

Considerations before Enrolling as an Adult: Studying what you want, when you want is just one of the benefits of returning to school as an adult, provided you can juggle all of your other obligations at the same time.

Maintaining a Job while Attending School: Balancing school and work can be tricky, but with open communication, flexibility, and a part-time course load, you can be well on your way to a credential.

Leaving Your Job to Attend School: Leaving your job for school is not a choice to be made lightly, but some employers will reward you for achieving higher education.

Attending School after Unemployment: Becoming unemployed is an emotional and financial upheaval, but returning to school can help you earn the right credential to find a well-paying job in the future.

Switching Careers: Switching careers involves quitting one job and then attaining the education necessary to be successful and happy in another; this is not a decision to make suddenly.

Finding Programs Suited to Your Career Goals: Your future education depends wholly on your future career. Pick a school that will help you get the credentials you need to be a successful professional in the future.

Finding Programs Suited to Your Lifestyle: Busy adults lead busy lives, but some schools provide programs and resources that make attending school easier. Think financial aid, resources for parents, and flexible scheduling.

Finding Programs That Will Accept You and Your Credits: If you already have some college credit under your belt, you need to find a school willing to accept transfer credits or give credit by exam in addition to being a good fit for your academic history and abilities.

Finding Ways to Make Your Program Affordable: Between the type of institution you choose, preexisting college credits, federal financial aid, the possibility of employer-sponsored financial aid, and tax credits, you can make any program work for you.

High School Equivalency Exams: Students who never finished high school may take one of three high school equivalency exams (the GED, HiSET, or TASC Test) to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Taking the SAT or ACT: If you haven’t taken a standardized test in over five years, chances are your scores won’t mean much to an admissions officer and you may be asked to retake the test.

Testing Your Knowledge to Earn College Credit: Individuals with a substantial background in one of over 33 subjects may register for and take a CLEP test. Passing scores may result in college credit.