4 secrets to becoming a successful undergrad again!

When Baby Boomers Head Back to College

by Paige Estigarribia

Related Articles

A Realistic Second Career in Retirement

Your Strengths Don't Retire When You Do

Educate Yourself (without Returning to College!)

Not just high school seniors are headed to college. Baby boomers are making their mark at both on-campus and online colleges. According to numbers from the National Center for Educational Statistics, in 1995, 42.5 percent of individuals aged 50-54 were taking an adult education program, class, or course. This number rose in 2005, where the percentage of those aged 50-54 taking adult education classes was 46.6. Interestingly, in 1995, for those aged 60-64, 23.7 percent of people were taking an adult education course. The percentage rose in 2005, where 37.9 percent of this same age group were attending adult education courses. If you're thinking of trying out college courses during retirement, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. How Will You Pay for It?

College courses are much more expensive than they were when you were 20. How do you plan to pay for the courses and the accompanying textbooks and materials? Will you use your savings? Are you planning to apply for student loans or financial aid? Or are you thinking about researching for available scholarships? Before you make the commitment to head back to the classroom, be sure to research how you will pay for the classes. Student loans can get expensive, and if you already have other debts, this added expense could put a dent in retirement or other plans.

2. Can You Spare the Time?

Keep in mind that college classes can take significant time away from other activities. Even part-time classes will require several hours a week in reading, studying, and completing assignments. Think carefully about your own schedule and whether you are willing to add this extra time in as an additional activity in your week.

3. What Is Your Goal?

Why are you taking the classes? Is it because you want to keep your mind active? Is it because you want to pursue another degree? Whatever the reason, make sure you have a goal in mind before you begin your new adventure. If you're thinking of extending your work career, make sure that you have fully researched the career opportunities available with your new degree as well as the time it will take to finish. If you've attended college in the past, it also could be worth it to research the college's policy on transfer credits to see if any of your previous coursework could be applied towards your new degree.

4. Will Family Understand?

If your family is a large part of your life, then be sure that they understand the time commitments of your new undertaking. If you currently babysit your grandchildren, confirm that the kids, as well as mom and dad, understand the time that will be required for courses when you go back to school. Or if you are currently caring for your own aging parents, make sure that your school and study schedule won't conflict with your care obligations.

If you're considering venturing back to the classroom, these tips will guide you in thinking through whether the decision is right for you. Learning new skill is always exciting! Just be sure to think through your decision so that you can get the most possible out of your new class schedule.

Reviewed September 2017

Paige Estigarribia is a writer for The Dollar Stretcher who enjoys writing about food, frugal living, and money-saving tips. Visit Paige on Google+.

Take the Next Step:

  • Use this tool to maximize your retirement by determining the best age to take your Social Security benefits. Don't leave thousands on the table by taking Social Security at the wrong time.
  • Learn more about adult education by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Determine if debt could derail your retirement and what you can do about it now. Our checklist can help you. Afterall, one of the most important ingredients for a comfortable retirement is to be debt free when you retire.
  • Subscribe to After 50 Finances. You've learned how to work smarter, not harder. This weekly newsletter is dedicated to people just like you. Subscribers get a FREE copy of our After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist, a list of everything you need to do to be ready for retirement.

Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.

Stay Connected with TDS

Social Security Choices


You've learned how to work smarter, not harder.

After 50 Finances is a weekly newsletter dedicated to people just like you.

Retirement Checklist

And get a free copy of the After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist. Everything you need to do to be ready for retirement!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Debt Book