5 Tips for Success: Starting College at 25

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at AIU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

Starting college at 25 is a very different experience than enrolling immediately after high school graduation. Yet going back to school as a nontraditional student is a trend that's on the rise: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, college enrollment of students age 25 and older grew 13% between 2005 and 2015, compared to a 15% increase for students under 25. Meanwhile, NCES projects enrollment of students 25 and over to rise 8% between 2015 and 2026 (compared to a 17% increase for students under 25).1

Whether you're going back to explore personal interests or expand your knowledge, it's important to acknowledge that you have different needs, advantages and challenges as an adult learner. Here are five tips that can help make your college experience a positive one.

  1. Leverage your self-knowledge as an asset:

    Many adult students find that experience – both personal and professional – is a real asset when returning to college. Understanding your strengths and desires makes it easier to clarify your goals and choose a degree program that can help you achieve your objectives. It also helps you stay the course when the going gets tough, and it can motivate you to commit to the study habits needed to succeed in your program.

  2. Acknowledge that competing demands are real:

    Returning to college as an adult often means that you're studying while balancing other obligations. You may have a full-time job, a family, or other demands competing for your time and attention. Recognizing this can help you choose a program and school that's right for you. Flexibility, customization and quality are the keys. Choose a program that's designed to help older students succeed, including support for full-time students as well as those attending part-time

  3. Use your motivations to succeed:

    Whether you're in a career you already love and want to expand your potential opportunities or you're looking to make a change, education can help. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who have a bachelor's degree earn 64% more2 per week on average than those with a high school diploma alone and are less likely to be unemployed. Taking the steps to expand your education, skill set and knowledge can pay off in terms of both career growth and professional development.

  4. Select the classroom format that's right for you:

    Some learners want a local classroom where they can meet with other students and instructors face-to-face. For others, an online campus offers the flexibility to make pursuing a degree possible amid other obligations. Take some time to evaluate the environment that's right for your needs and then choose an accredited college that offers a degree in your area of interest or specialization.

  5. Take advantage of support services:

    Starting college at 25 or oing back to school later in life naturally brings up doubts and concerns. But there are numerous support services within the college environment designed to help you succeed. Financial aid advisors can help you create a plan to pay for your education. Academic advisors can work with yogu to develop a degree road map to achieve your goals within your desired time frame. While younger students may be unwilling or not ready to take advantage of these services, as an adult learner, your willingness to ask for help can make all the difference.


1. National Center for Education Statistics, on the Internet at https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=98 (visited on 11/19/2018)
2. “Employment Projections” Buereau of Labor Statistics, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm (visited on 11/19/18) Conditions in your area may vary.

AIU cannot guarantee employment or salary. For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program, go to www.aiuniv.edu/disclosures. AIU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states.
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Classes Start September 25, 2019