Going Back To School At 40 – Can It Be Done?

Women going back to school as an adult

If you think you’re too old for school at 40 years of age or older, think again!

It’s never too late to get a degree or other higher education qualification.

The old saying “better late than never” couldn’t be more appropriate when it comes to furthering your education as an adult.
Just ask 99 year old college graduate Doreetha Daniels who completed an associate degree at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, CA.

On how she motivated herself to be committed to earning her degree at such a grand age, Doreetha stated:

“Don’t give up. Do it. Don’t let anybody discourage you. Say that, ‘I’m going to do it,’ and do it for yourself.”

Suddenly, being a 40 year old college student doesn’t sound so extreme at all does it?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 17% of college and graduate students in 2009 were aged over 35 and this figure is expected to rise to 19% by 2020.

That’s almost 1 in 5 college students aged 35 years or over. So if you think you’ll feel out of place on campus, that certainly won’t be the case.

Reasons older people go back to school

If you yourself are in your 40s and are considering going to college, you would have a good reason for it. And you’re far from alone.

So many women have ambitions to complete or further their education. This website alone that you’re reading has hundreds of comments submitted by women just like you who are seeking a better future.

And there’s no doubt that education is the key to a brighter tomorrow.

Whatever your reason is for wanting to advance your education, the end goal is usually the same – to provide a better future for you and your family. More specifically, the main reasons that mature age students enrol in college and university include:

Starting a New Career or Advancing Current Career

If you have or had a career before having children, but have been out of the workforce for some time, returning to your old career might not be possible because technology and other factors have changed and advanced, while your skills and knowledge have been left behind.

Redeveloping skills and knowledge can allow you to take on a brand new career, or return to your old one with an entirely new skillset.

Job Loss

People who are fired from a job they’ve worked in for many years may now see it as a turning point to enhancing skills and qualifications, especially where the prospects of finding another similar job are slim. More skills and qualifications = better job prospects.

Financial Considerations of Returning To School at 40

Studying costs money; there’s no way around that. If you’re leaving a job or reducing your hours at work in order to go back to school, you will of course be sacrificing some income.

However, many women who return to college try to find more flexible options, such as night classes and distance or online education.

In some cases this can mean being able to work while studying. It’s important not to underestimate how much time you will need for completing assignments and other out of class work though, as well as maintaining some balance in your life.

Employer Assistance

If you are employed and are planning to stay at your job while studying, as your employer about any tuition assistance programs they might have.

In some cases, employer assistance can cover the entire cost of your study! But even if it’s just a small amount, any financial help is always welcome.

If your course directly relates to your job, your employer will be able to see the value in you enhancing your skills and qualifications and might be more inclined to want to provide some sort of financial support, as well as being open to more flexible hours. You have nothing to lose by asking.

Study Options For Over 40s

Juggling multiple life commitments, like working and looking after your family, means that studying has to be slotted into your schedule somehow, without having a negative impact on the other things in your life.

This is where flexible learning options come in. These include:

  • Part time study
  • Distance education (hybrid on-campus and online)
  • Online study

Part Time Study

Studying part time allows you to juggle work and personal life easier with your studies. The downsides are that your degree will take double the time to complete, and that many scholarships and grants are only open to students who are enrolled in full time study.

But if part time is your only viable option, it is still definitely worth pursuing. There are still grants out there for part time students, and even if it does take you long to complete your course, it is considerably better than not doing it at all.

In short, if studying part time or at reduced weekly hours is the only option that fits into your life circumstances, don’t let that stop you from enrolling. Many students complete degrees at reduced study hours and reap the benefits well into the future.

Distance Learning and Online Education

In the past, studying via distance or online was something that only people who lived in remote areas did. These days it is much more mainstream, even for people living in major cities. Why? There are many reasons for wanting to do some or even all of your studies online.

While it’s true that some fields of study will require you to attend a campus for some classes, such as those that require practical lessons (the sciences for example), if your course is mostly theory based then there’s a good chance you’ll be able to complete all of it without stepping foot on campus.

I’ll be posting a more in depth article about distance and online study soon, so keep an eye out for that. But this is an area that is absolutely useful for mothers and adults wanting to return to school, but who don’t have the time to attend on-campus classes.

Are There Any Grants Or Scholarships For Mothers Over 40?

Scholarships for students over 40 do exist. But you can also simply apply for any scholarship that isn’t eligible only to school leavers.

There are literally thousands of these scholarship programs out there. Not all of them will be suited to your needs or your own situation, BUT many of them will be.

The more specific the requirements of a grant or scholarship are, the less people who are eligible to apply and of course, the higher chance you will have to be awarded one or even more than one.

Thinking outside the box a little can really help you with finding and applying for suitable scholarships if you’re an over 40 Mom, or an adult of any age wanting to return to school and needing some financial assistance.

  • Scholarships based on financial need are a good place to start if you are on a low income
  • More specifically, there are scholarships that are targeted especially for women, at mothers, at single mothers, and at women from minority groups or certain locations. Find out what’s offered by your local colleges, as well as community groups, businesses, and other providers.
  • The Federal Pell Grant is open to you, and you just need to complete your FAFSA to begin the application process. You can receive over $5000 from the Pell Grant, and it will not affect how much extra money you can receive in scholarships from other sources.

College Scholarships For Working Moms

If you’ve suddenly found yourself at 30 or even 40 years of age and have decided that you’d like to pursue a career, money might be the only thing stopping you.

College scholarships for working moms can be difficult to find. Most grant and scholarship organizations have strict rules about who they give a scholarship to and more often than not it doesn’t include mothers like us who have a job but wish to go to college.

So how do you get through the financial issues of attending school as a working mom?

Consider what it will cost:

  • Tuition fees (several thousand dollars)
  • Books
  • Stationary and equipment
  • Travel

If you currently have a job that you’d like to keep then you’ll have even less time to attend classes and study.

But don’t despair.

If you really want a degree you will get it, and part time study is an option for you and so is online education.

College scholarships for working moms give you the money that is needed to cover the most important school expenses such as your tuition fees.

Types of Scholarships for Adult Students

Let’s look at the 5 main types of scholarships and which might be suitable for moms:

1. Needs Based
These are for people who have financial troubles so the scholarship money can cover living expenses and tuition fees. You need proof to apply for this scholarship type.

2. Merit
If you excel in a particular field then you may be eligible for a merit scholarship.

3. Institutional
This is when certain colleges and universities also give scholarships to prospective students.

4. Society/Culture
These scholarships are given to people based on their race, religion, gender or nationality. This group also contains scholarships for single moms, young moms, working moms and other women groups.

5. General
These are scholarships that are given to the children or employees of participating companies, sometimes under a bond contract.

Your financial worries can be taken care of with a scholarship for moms, provided you start looking for, and applying as soon as possible.

So many mothers give up their dreams of going to college because they can not afford it.

Are you one of them?

Money Matters

Without a doubt money is the main thing that keeps moms away from college.

Tuition fees alone can cost a fortune, let alone textbooks, travel and other related expenses.

The only viable way for many mothers is to find a suitable scholarship.

Unfortunately most scholarships will not be open to moms as they often see you as not being committed enough to complete the degree and then get a job.
Of course, you and I know that this is not true! I am proof of that fact.

Scholarships can be used to pay for your tuition fees.

This can be up to $10,000 or sometimes more so if you can find a scholarship to cover all of your fees this is fantastic.

This means all you have to pay for is a few text books and other small things – but the bulk of your course is taken care of for you. No stressful student loans!

Despite being indisputably rewarding, motherhood is time consuming. If you add to that the financial responsibilities that are implied when having a family, you will most likely jump to the conclusion that having a job is mandatory. In this context, it may seem rather impossible to continue education, both financially and from your schedule’s point of view.

Fortunately, there are many college scholarships for working mothers that can match your daily program. Besides being tailored to fit your schedule, these academic programs offered to working mothers are free, so you can save the money for taking care of your family,

The easiest way to apply for college scholarships is to search them online. The number of organizations that host scholarship directories on their website is great.

Once you access such a website, you will be able to find the scholarship that is the most adequate for your needs. You can start by using a keyword that defines the scholarship. Next, you can narrow down the results by entering the area in which the college should be located. Just make sure that you are eligible for the scholarships you apply for.

If you conclude that the tuition fee cannot be sustained after being accepted to the college, you do not have to abandon the idea. Many colleges have financial aid offices and you should visit one of these to find out how the college taxes can be reduced. These offices usually have a page on the website of the college where all the available scholarships are listed.

On this particular page you should also be able to find the criteria on which the scholarships and grants are given away. This way, most of the questions you may have about this topic will be answered. For additional information regarding the college scholarships for working mothers you should visit the aforementioned financial aid office.

If you’re a working mom then I have no doubt that you are almost always pressed for time. I know how tough it is to look after kids while also working – been there done that myself (still doing it actually!).

So if you’ve actually decided that you wish to go back to school then you’re probably wondering if it’s all possible. But there is a way and that is: college scholarships for working moms.

This type of scholarship is made for mothers who are returning to study so whether you want to change your career or just create better skills for yourself, college is the way to go.

I made that decision some time ago and am so glad I did – your life truly takes on more meaning and you feel a sense of hope for the future.

Tips for Moms Who Want to Go to College

So you’ve made the big decision to go back to school – congratulations!

It is your first step into a wonderful new life full of prosperity for you and your loved ones.

I have little doubt that you’ll end up in a higher paying and more satisfying job as your new skills will be in demand.

Here are some quick tips:

1. Study Online
By doing online study you can do the course work when and where you want. This is perfect for moms.

2. Increase Your Energy
Eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest in order to have energy for everything in your day.

3. No Stress
Minimize stress by not taking life too seriously. Take time out to be with your kids, and manage your time well when you are doing your college work.


So while going back to school at 40 might seem like a scary thought at first, especially when you’re worried whether you can even afford it, the truth is that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Thousands of adult students enrol in college degrees every year, and there’s no reason why you can’t be one of them. With a grant or scholarship, you can receive the financial assistance that will make your transition into study that much easier, while also being able to continue your obligations to your home, your work and your family.

Click here to have a chance to win $1000 and register for 100’s of scholarships with just one application

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