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Tips to Decide If You Should Go Back to School

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Thinking about going back to school as an adult? You’re not alone. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 37 percent of the 19.9 million undergraduate students in the United States in 2019 are over the age of 25. From 2010 to 2020, the NCES projected a rise of 20 percent in enrollments of students 25 and over.

Adults are going back to school in record numbers to advance in their current positions, learn new skills, or help them change careers. Many adults want to improve on their Leadership and Management skills, explore a new opportunity in trending careers such as Digital Marketing or increase their credentials with a Masters Degree in Public Health. But adding that extra workload when many adults already carry a lot of responsibilities between children, family and work; making the decision to go back to school takes careful consideration. Before you decide on completing your undergraduate degree, going for a graduate degree or certificate program, ask yourself the following questions.

Tips to Help You Decide If You Should Go Back to School

How will a degree, certificate or training help me achieve my career goals? 

Define (or perhaps re-define) your career path and research whether additional education is necessary. Talk to a career coach and other professionals in your field to determine how returning to school will help you advance in your current position or change career directions with a new opportunity.

How do I make the time?

Whether you hope to finish a degree or pursue a new one, going back to school will require a time commitment. Determine what support system you have in place or can add, to help you juggle work, home and family responsibilities. Having support can make your life less stressful as you manage your coursework on top of your already busy life.

Should I consider online learning?

Online learning allows for flexibility and convenience while maintaining academic rigor and high expectations of students. Many online programs are available in a variety of fields. While online learning gives you the freedom to work from the comfort of your own home, time management is still critical to your success as an online student.

Can I afford to go back to school?

Going back to school can be expensive, and a clear financial plan is necessary. Explore financial aid packages and scholarship programs to finance your education. Find out if your employer offers tuition reimbursement or interest-free loans that benefit the company’s long term goal for more skilled employees.

Will going back to school be worth it?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, college graduates make an average of $399 more per week than those workers who started but did not complete their undergraduate degree, or nearly $21,000 more per year. You have the potential to earn an additional $230 a week with a graduate degree or nearly $12,000 more per year. If you add on a professional degree, you can add another $435 a week or an additional $23,000 more per year.


In many ways increasing your education makes sense. But sometimes the path to get there isn’t quite clear. UVM’s Continuing Education advisors help adult learners navigate the decision-making process. Set up a time to talk to an advisor today at Learn@uvm.edu or call 802-656-2085.