Frequently Asked Questions: Adults Going Back to School

What is a non-traditional student?

You will often hear adults going back to college referred to as “non-traditional” students, but what does that mean, exactly? Non-traditional students are typically re-entry or adult students generally ages 25-69 who have decided to pursue a degree or certificate for various reasons. Non-traditional students are often female, but males are returning to college more often to update professional skills and further their careers. The most important point to keep in mind is that is NEVER too late to return to school. Colorado Christian University offers numerous adult education degree programs; college is not just for 18-year-olds. Your life and work experience may even give you the upper hand in many academic situations, and with your faith in Christ as your guide, success is at your fingertips.

Many adults going back to school may never have attended college or started college and then had to drop out due to family or financial responsibilities. Many of CCU’s adult students have spent time in the workforce, the military, or raising a family, and now want to go back to school to achieve their dream of being college educated. Some non-traditional students are retired but want to re-enter the workforce while others are single parents looking to achieve a better life for themselves and their families. Non-traditional students are varied and bring so many life experiences to the educational arena.

Why get a degree at my age?

According to a 2010 report by the Department of Education, 13% of students enrolled in college were single parents, up from 7.6% in 1993. Economic reasons are a strong motivator for non-traditional students; they often want to change careers or update professional credentials. Advanced degrees sometimes help employees get promotions or raises. Some adult students continue to work while returning to school while others attend part-time. Some employers will even provide tuition assistance if you agree to stay with your company for a certain number of years. You may be just starting a degree program, returning to finish a degree, seeking an advanced degree, or taking courses for personal or spiritual enrichment. And with online degree programs now being offered, you can obtain a college degree without ever stepping foot on campus! If you are concerned about paying for your education, there are numerous financial assistance opportunities for adult students returning to school such as loans, grants and scholarships. The CCU financial aid and admissions office can help you find such opportunities.

Do I really need a college degree or certificate?

The answer to this question depends on your personal career goals, but, in general, the higher the education, the higher the salary, and the better the career options and job security. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual income for employees with a high school diploma is $27,915; for a bachelor’s degree $51,206. People having a high school diploma and no college education are twice as likely to be unemployed as those holding bachelor’s degrees. Those without a high school diploma averaged a yearly income of just $18,734. Master’s and doctoral degree holders earn an annual average salary of $74,602. We are not saying a college degree equals success and monetary comfort, but these statistics do show that possessing a college degree may help you find a job more easily in tough economic times and allow you to make more money than you would without a college degree.

What does the future hold?

Employment statistics project that 75% of future positions are expected to require at least some type of certificate or license, and professions that require a bachelor’s degree are projected to grow twice as fast as the national average, making a college degree a good investment. If you suffer the loss of a spouse or go through a divorce, you may be forced to go back to college to advance in your career or begin a new career. With so many advances in technology, you will find that you must develop and/or update your knowledge and skills, especially when it comes to computers and everything else electronic related. There are not many jobs that do not require computer proficiency, so if you have not had to work with computers much in the past, it may be time to begin your journey on the technological superhighway to keep up with others applying for the same jobs as you.

If you have questions about how online education at CCU works, please read our Online Learning Frequently Asked Questions page. Thousands of non-traditional students have earned their degrees online and have had great success entering the workforce. Please contact the CCU Adult Degree Admissions Office to find out how to get started on your college degree.