Going Back To School at 50

Going back to school can be a lot of things - edifying, exhilarating, fun, but it is not usually an easy decision. Still, it can be an absolutely life-changing one. For adults over 50, the decision to return to school is even more challenging.

It comes with its own set of unique stressors but thankfully, it also comes with its own opportunities. Below we will be taking a look at some of the benefits of going back to school at 50, but most importantly we’ll examine how to get the best out of this experience and how to make sure that you are well prepared.

Challenges of Going Back to School at 50

The decision to continue education at a later age has become even more common in today’s workforce. While there are numerous reasons to make this decision, they all come with the same set of challenges, including the following:

Dealing with physical and cognitive changes

Going back to school is always tough, but when you’re at the same time dealing with physical and cognitive changes, the challenge may get even more profound and affect academic performance.

For example, for adults whose vision and hearing may have declined, reading or participating in group discussions become a bit more tedious. Additionally, memory and processing speed may slow down, making it more challenging to retain and apply new information.

These aren’t obstacles that can’t be overcome, but at the same time it is important for adults over 50 to be aware of the changes and work with their professors and support services to find accommodations and strategies that can help them succeed.

Facing age discrimination or feeling out of place

It is common for adults that are 50 years or older to feel out of place in a classroom filled with younger students. This feeling can lead to even more negative feelings like isolation or inadequacy.

And while it is not commonplace, it is also possible that some will end up facing age discrimination from professors or fellow students - at least for a while.

Again, it is possible to overcome this challenge. You will find it really helpful to, among other things, make an effort to connect with other older students, join clubs or organizations that match your interests, or seek out mentorship opportunities with professors or alumni who have gone back to school later in life.

All of these can go a long way in eliminating the feeling of isolation - which is capable of holding you back if you let it.

Adjusting to new technologies and learning methods

Schools nowadays are more dependent on new technology than ever. Naturally, adults over 50 may have less familiarity with these modern technologies and learning methods.

Again, while this can be a barrier to success in the classroom, it is not insurmountable. To overcome this challenge, it is imperative that you take advantage of resources such as tutoring, online training programs, and workshops offered by the school.

Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to your classmates or even younger peers who can help with technology or other areas of the curriculum. There is absolutely no shame in it.


Other stressors that apply to going back to school in general also, naturally, apply to going back to school at 50. These include balancing personal and professional commitments, securing financial aid and support, adjusting to a new environment, and managing stress/self-care.

Benefits of Going Back to School at 50

Despite all of the challenges, people continue to go back to school at 50, and experience great success doing so. Why? Because despite the challenges, there are more than enough benefits, including the following.

Intellectual Stimulation

As an adult over 50 going back to school, one of the things you’re likely to find most appealing is the intellectual stimulation it provides. For anyone of any age, higher education is known to provide intellectual stimulation and personal growth.

This can be found in the classroom related activities of learning new concepts and ideas, expanding your perspective and thinking more critically about the world around you. It can also be found in social activities such as interacting with fellow students, discussing technical hobbies, and getting stimulated by art.

Career Advancement

Naturally, one of the reasons why people go back to school at any age is to advance their careers. Going back to school at 50 can provide this benefit as well.

Career advancement opportunities that were previously unavailable become open to you. Not only does earning a degree or certificate demonstrate to employers that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to take on higher-level roles within your field, it also shows willingness to always keep improving - which is something that every employer wants.

This, of course, tends to lead to a greater level of financial stability.

Personal Fulfillment

People find fulfillment in different things in life. For some it is dropping out of school, while for some it is going back to it. Many adults over 50 have found a sense of personal fulfillment and accomplishment in returning to school and completing their education.

This makes a lot of sense, seeing as a great deal of adults at this age have put their education on hold to focus on family and career obligations. By returning to school, they can fulfill a lifelong dream or pursue a new passion.

Expanded Social Network

It is never too late to network. Going back to school can be the perfect opportunity to expand your network both socially and professionally. In the process of obtaining your degree or certificate, you will inevitably meet people from diverse backgrounds and age groups.

In school, you already have a shared similar academic interests to build upon. This, in turn, often leads to valuable personal and professional connections that may end up becoming valuable in the near future.

Setting an Example

Lastly, another important benefit of going back to school at 50 is that it sets an example for the upcoming generation, including your own children and grandchildren. Most of them inevitably suffer from disillusionment with the education system.

At this point, it never hurts for them to find a role model to show them the value of what they’re doing. Going back to school at 50 shows the next generation that education is important at any age and that it is never too late to pursue your dreams.

This can motivate the younger generation to pursue their education and career goals and can inspire them to keep learning throughout their lives.

Considerations for Returning to School at 50

As with any significant, life-altering endeavors, there are a handful of considerations you must make before going back to school at 50. Below are some of the most important.

Program/Institution Considerations

When considering going back to school at 50, it is important to choose the right program and institution that aligns with your goals and interests. Take the time to research different programs, compare curricula, and explore the resources and support available to students. Consider factors such as location, reputation, faculty, class size, and available accommodations for adult learners.

Financial Considerations

School is always expensive. Returning to school is always expensive. Returning to school at 50 is no different. Thankfully, there are a lot of financial aid options available to adult learners.

Explore grants, scholarships, loans, and tuition reimbursement programs offered by the institution, employer, and government agencies. And don’t hesitate to pay special attention to those that target adult learners.

Technological Considerations

Seeing as most programs and courses are now offered online, it is important to assess your technological needs before going back to school. Chances are you will need to invest in a reliable computer, high-speed internet, and necessary software programs.

Also, as touched upon earlier, don’t hesitate to take advantage of technology training resources and support services offered by the institution to become more tech savvy.

Support Network

Everyone needs a support system when they find themselves in a relatively new environment. Going back to school at 50, everything often seems novel and isolating. Building a support network can make a significant difference.

Don’t hesitate to seek out mentorship, academic and career advising, and peer support programs offered by the institution. Connect with fellow adult learners and participate in student organizations and activities.

Also, consider seeking support from family, friends, and colleagues. As much as the program/institution helps in this regard, your family and friends are still the most familiar to you and they always have a huge role to play.

Getting the Most Out of School at 50 - Tips & Advice

The following tips should help ensure that your experiment going back to school is as pleasant and rewarding as possible.

  1. Focus on Your Goals and Priorities: First of all, it is important to identify and prioritize your goals before going back to school at 50. If you know what you’re targeting, it is harder to get distracted.

    It will also help you stay motivated and focused on what you want to achieve. Establishing a timeline for achieving your goals can also help you stay on track.

  2. Develop Good Study Habits: As an adult learner, it is important to develop good study habits to be successful in school. Some strategies to help you stay focused and motivated include creating a dedicated study space, setting a study schedule, and breaking up your study time into manageable chunks.

  3. Take Care of Your Health and Well-Being: it is always important to prioritize your health and well-being to stay motivated and focused. As an adult learner, this need becomes even more important. Ensure to get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, stay physically active, and never hesitate to take breaks when you need them.

  4. Stay Connected to Your Career Goals: One of the biggest challenges of going back to school at 50 is balancing your education with your career goals. It is important to stay connected to your career goals by attending networking events, joining professional organizations, and seeking out mentorship opportunities.

  5. Embrace Lifelong Learning: Going back to school at 50 is an opportunity to embrace lifelong learning and continue to grow both personally and professionally. Keep an open mind, stay curious, and take advantage of all the resources available to you to make the most of your educational experience.


Going back to school at 50 can help stimulate you intellectually, advance your career, and expand your social network. More often than not, it is also an opportunity to give back to society.

With the knowledge and skills acquired through education, individuals can contribute to their communities and society at large. They can volunteer their time and expertise, become leaders in their field, and make a positive impact on the world around them.

All in all, going back to school at 50 can be a richly fulfilling and rewarding experience. Following the advice and path laid out above can go a long way in making sure you get the best out of the experience and remain positively improved forever.

Ryan Collins
Written by

Ryan Collins

Empowering minds with engaging insights and innovative learning strategies.