Regardless of your age, taking the non-traditional route of going back to school at a later stage in your life can be anxiety-inducing.
After all, going to school fresh out of high school means you have the support of your parents and teachers. As an adult, however, you may feel like there are too many unknowns. You may not know how to being your research or even what schooling options are available to you.
Don't fret! We got you covered.
In this article, you'll learn how things will be different this time around and what you need to consider moving forward. You'll also get a better understand of the learning pathways that are available to you. Most importantly, you'll meet students just like you who decided to take a leap at a later stage in their life.
School At 25: How Will It Be Different?
The first step in your back-to-school plan is recognizing that now things will be much different. What you would consider as a high school graduate is much different than what you would consider at this stage in your life.
At 25, you'll need to figure out:
- How much time you can commit to school
- How much you can spend on schooling
- How you will choose the right school for you
How Much Time Can You Commit?
Consider all the aspects of your life that require your time and energy on a daily basis. Whether you have kids, a full-time job, or you're caring for a loved one, you need to think about the time that is available to you right now.
How does school fit into that picture?
Answering this important question will help you narrow down your list of education options. This will be especially helpful in choosing between full-time or part-time learning pathways. Each one requires a different level of commitment and energy, so choosing the best fit for your current life situation will be crucial.
How Much Can You Spend?
Your research won't be complete if you don't know how much you can realistically invest in your schooling. Even a slight difference in cost can have an impact on your list of options. Before you continue your research, ask yourself:
How much money can I spend on going back to school?
Once you know your number, keep it in mind and continue your research. Knowing how much you can spend will help you find a schooling option that not only fits your budget, but also gives you the most value for your money.
How Will You Choose a School?
Choosing a school is more than just picking a name out of a list of options. You need to consider both what you need from the school and what each one can offer you. Fortunately, there are countless options to choose from, all which accommodate the various needs of their students.
Consider the following list of learning pathways.
Recommended Learning Pathways
The great thing about going back to school at this time in your life is that now you have more options than ever before. Whether you want a traditional route or not, there are a variety of paths you can take to getting the education you need and deserve.
Here are the most common learning pathways you can take.
This is one of the most common and well-known learning pathways a person can take. It's also thought of as the best option for anyone looking to expand their career potential. This is not necessarily the case, and proper research must be done to make an informed decision on the advantages and disadvantages of seeking a college degree.
- Increases your value as a job candidate
- Widens the range of jobs you can get
- Offers an in-depth understanding of your chosen subject
- Can leave you with a high amount of student loan debt
- Doesn't guarantee you'll find a job
- Doesn't prepare you for any specific job
Certificate programs typically focus on teaching their students a specific skill or subject. As such, they are great ways to prove your knowledge to a potential employer.
This is not to say that there aren't downsides to certificates. Consider the pros and cons of certificates and see if they are a right fit for you.
- Are significantly more affordable than college degrees
- Teaches you the specific skill or subject you want to learn
- Does not require as much time to complete as other pathways
- Does not offer the in-depth knowledge a job might require
- Might not be enough if you have no previous education or work experience
- Some jobs require a college degree
There are countless learning platforms available to you online. Look into online options that teach you the skills you need to grow your career opportunities. If you're thinking about using an online platform to develop your career, read the following pros and cons to make an informed decision.
- There are many learning platforms to choose from
- Subscriptions to learning platforms are usually affordable
- You set the pace at which you learn
- Employers might not consider them as valuable as other learning pathways
- There is usually less direct interaction between the student and the instructor
- The quality of this pathway varies by platform, course, and instructor
Bootcamps have seen a rise in popularity in previous years. They offer more efficient ways to learn new skills. Though they were initially focused on teaching tech skills, bootcamps are now moving towards teaching a wider set of skills.
Take a look at the pros and cons of this learning pathway and see if bootcamps are a good fit for you.
- They are more affordable than college
- They can be completed in a lot less time than a college degree
- They offer an in-depth perspective on the skills you are learning
- Can be expensive if you're forced to pay everything upfront
- You may not qualify for jobs that require a college degree
- Are not as in-depth as a college degree
5 Tips for Going Back to School at 25
Choosing the learning pathway that is right for you can be a stressful process. Regardless of what you choose, keep these five tips in mind to ensure a smooth ride in your path toward career development.
- Do Your Research
The most important part of your process of choosing a school is research. The more research you do, the more informed your decision will be. Make sure to really investigate the options available to you and how each one would fit into your life.
Your time, energy, and money are valuable, and you deserve a learning pathway that gives you the value you're looking for.
2. Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
Setting realistic goals doesn't mean you undermine yourself or doubt your ability to learn. It simply means you recognize how much you can handle and act accordingly.
Setting realistic goals will help you avoid the disappointment that comes with not meeting an extremely high standards. It can also help you avoid burning out.
3. Get Back into the Learner's Mindset
If you're 25 years old, it would be fair to assume you haven't been inside a classroom for a few years. This means you likely need to work on getting back into the learner's mindset.
As you navigate your chosen pathway, think about what works best for you. How do you best retain information? What study techniques work best for you? Keep your answers in mind to ensure you get the most out of your education.
4. Go at Your Own Pace
While many learning pathways are quicker than others, you might find yourself needing a little more time to process the new information. Be patient with yourself in this process and try to go at your own pace.
Rushing yourself may only hurt your learning experience.
5. Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help
There is nothing wrong in asking for help when you need it. Keep this in mind ask you want through your learning pathway. Your educators are there to help, so feel free to take advantage of all the resources available to you to maximize your learning experience.
Why Other 25-Year-Olds Chose a Bootcamp Over College
We understand how difficult it might feel to go back to school at 25. The good news is, however, that there are countless adult learners who not only have chosen the right path for them but have used their stories to inspire others into taking action.
There are many reasons why adult learners like you chose the bootcamp path over a college degree, the main ones being:
- They wanted a flexible and affordable option that suited their lifestyle
- They needed a learning pathway that offered one-on-one mentorship
- They were looking for a pathway that was online-based for maximum convenience
Take Kara Flaherty, who started out as a copy editor. For Kara, coding was nothing more than a hobby, but when the opportunity presented itself, she took a leap forward toward the bootcamp path and has never looked back. Kara is now working a fulfilling job for a Fortune 200 company as a Software Engineer.
"It feels amazing to finally put all of my skills together in one place and use them for building projects that could possible affect millions of people and make life easier and more convenient. Oh, and it feels pretty good to no longer worry about how I'll ever pay off my student loans."
Sean Robenalt chose Thinkful as his bootcamp option and has seen a massive return on investment. Starting out as a bartender, Sean didn't learn to code until later in his life, when he finally decided to focus on his passion of science and technology. He is now working as a Full Stack Developer.
"Thinkful helped me jump start a totally new career path. I went from being a restaurant worker with an Anthropology degree to a full stack developer at an interesting company in just about 8 months."
These and countless other students have found their perfect career path through the bootcamp pathway. They've done their research, determined the best route for them, and have moved on to awesome, fulfilling careers.
Achieve Your Career Goals in No Time
Only you can determine the right learning path for your specific needs, desires, and lifestyle. Once you've completed your research, making an informed decision will be easier than before.
Focus on what's best for you. If you're looking for a flexible, convenient, and affordable learning pathway, consider choosing an online bootcamp as your best option.
But no matter which path you take, remember that you deserve a quality learning experience that helps move you forward. We're here to help you realize your goals and move you toward the rewarding career path you so desire.
Is it too late to go back to school at 25?
Not at all! Whether you're 25 or 65, it's never too late to pursue your passion or career. In fact, the bigger risk is in not taking that leap of faith toward your goals. Regardless of your age, the effort of self improvement is always worth it.
Should I start a degree at 25?
You can start a degree at any time, as age is not a relevant factor in your career development. However, you may want to investigate more efficient and cost-effective learning pathways such as online bootcamps. These are often more flexible and affordable than college degrees.
Is it worth it to go back to school at 25?
If your goal is to further your career by learning a new skill or industry, then it's definitely worth it to go back to school. Learning is an investment, and your future self will thank you for your effort. Fortunately, you now have the knowledge you need to make a decision that is right for you.