With online learning and bachelor’s degree completion programs making it more convenient to earn a degree, working adults face an important question: Is going back to school in your 30s worth it? As many recent graduates can attest, the answer is “yes.”

Many adults return to finish college through a bachelor’s degree completion program after workforce experience teaches them the value of a college degree. A college degree provides a gateway to better positions and higher pay in most industries.

The term “adult learner” applies to many types of students. They include Moms who left school to start a family and military students who spent much of their 20s serving their country. Whatever their situation, people going back to school in their 30s have one fear in common: they think they waited too long to go back. They soon learn that is not the case. Read more about imposter syndrome in students and how to confront the imposter within.

Jim Moran, a 2021 graduate in Northern Michigan University’s Applied Workplace Leadership program, certainly doesn’t regret going back. He returned to complete a degree two decades after leaving NMU, a few credits shy of a degree.

“I started my degree process at NMU over 25 years ago. I was so close to my degree that I actually walked in the Spring 1999 graduation ceremony,” Moran said. “I had just a few credits left to finish that I never finished. Not having my degree has left a tremendous void in my life, and I’m very excited to finally be on course to wrap it up! My mom and my wife are my biggest supporters. I promised my mother that I would someday finish my degree, and that day is almost here!”

Addressing the Concerns of Adult Learners

The NMU Global Campus offers online degree programs that address many adult learners’ concerns about the time needed to complete their degrees. By taking courses online, they can attend classes wherever they have an internet connection. Students also can plan the time they devote to online learning around their professional schedules.

NMU is familiar with addressing the concerns of older students. The average age of NMU Global Campus students is 35, with 66 percent of all enrolled students over 30. The university understands the demands of adult learners on their time and attention and designed programs to address those issues.

For example, NMU offers flexible, accelerated courses that allow students to earn their degrees quickly and conveniently. The university also assigns each student an academic advisor. Adult learners have access to 24/7 tutoring services and a learning system to communicate with faculty and fellow students easily.

NMU’s Applied Workplace Leadership Program

NMU’s Applied Workplace Leadership program is perfectly suited for those with previous college credit. The 100% online program allows students to keep their previous college credit. It’s designed for adult learners who completed an associate degree or some college.

Students in the program learn skills that employers want to see in managers, team leaders, and project leaders. They include critical thinking, ethical decision-making, goal-oriented communication, and data-driven decision-making. They also learn to create a workplace environment that embraces diversity and improves productivity.

Signs It’s Time to Complete a Degree

Everyone has their own unique story. But in most cases, the following typically serve as reliable signs that it’s time to consider completing a bachelor’s degree.

You feel unappreciated: Given all you do, you may feel underpaid in your current position.

You don’t like the options: After searching for jobs based on your level of education, you don’t like anything you see. The jobs you want require a four-year degree.

You’re not getting promoted: In some cases, employers pass over those without a bachelor’s degree for promotions in favor of those who do.

You aspire to leadership: After a few years in the workforce, some people know that they want to become a leader in their field. In many cases, that involves earning a bachelor’s degree.

Benefits of Completing a Degree

Entering college for a second time can make all the difference in a person’s career. Students may also find themselves better prepared for success. New studies have shown that brains aren’t fully developed until people reach 30. Older students find themselves much more mature, less emotional, and often better able to handle the rigors of academic study.

They also enjoy tremendous benefits by completing a degree.

  • Better pay: Those earning a bachelor’s degree make an average of $1,305 per week nationwide, higher than those with an associate degree ($938) or a high school diploma ($781).
  • Higher employment: Those with a bachelor’s degree also enjoy high employment rates, with an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in 2020. That’s lower than those with an associate degree (7.1 percent) and a high school diploma (9 percent).
  • New careers: Earning a bachelor’s degree can ease the transition into a new career – or boost the chances of promotion if you stick with your current job.
  • Great role model: This is especially true in families where the student is the first to earn a college degree. Doing so can provide an example for younger generations to follow. Studies show that kids are more likely to attend college if their parents do.

Going back to school in your 30s and completing your bachelor’s degree is a goal for many working adults. NMU Global Campus offers degree programs and student services that help students achieve that worthy goal.