How to Go Back to School After 20+ Years

In our current moment, with so much economic upheaval and a multitude of shifting priorities, many people are wondering if now is the time to go back to school and get a high school diploma, college degree, or certificate to help them increase their employment opportunities. For people who have been out of school for a decade or more, such a decision may seem daunting — but about a quarter of the students pursuing their education with Guild are over 40 years old, and these individuals are paving the way for other life-long learners to make their return to school.

Concerns You May Have:
Time — Working while going to school is without a doubt a challenge. That’s why Guild chooses to offer programs from education institutions who are focused on adult learners and who understand that you’re juggling a career along with many other responsibilities. The flexible online programs allow you to do coursework when you have availability, and the instructors often tailor assignments so that you can draw from your own professional experiences.  

Technology — You may be wondering, “Are my computer skills rusty?” As part of their orientation, many universities provide practice modules to help students get used to the online learning platform. You can also access tutorial videos on YouTube to familiarize yourself with particular tools and platforms — like Canvas and Blackboard — used by many schools.

Community — Some of the ways that students create a supportive learning community include working with their personal Guild Student Success Coach, reaching out to coworkers who are also continuing their education, studying with family members who are pursuing degrees, forming study groups with students they meet in their classes, and creating or joining Facebook groups for other students in their program.  

Reasons to Go for It:

  • Work experience is often a degree unto itself. In your courses, you’ll be surprised at how frequently you’re able to contribute actual examples and applications of course concepts to class discussions and papers. 
  • Because of your career experience, you’re likely more focused and motivated, and can better see the value in your courses and how they apply to advancing your career. You have the chance to tailor your education however it best suits you.
  • If you’re a parent, your children may be older and more independent, providing you additional time to pursue your studies. Your adult kids may even enjoy the role reversal in helping you with your coursework.

Tips for Going Back to School:

  • Approach your learning with a growth mindset, and allow for some adjustment time. You can keep your workload manageable by starting with one course. Each week you’ll become a little more familiar with preparing and submitting your assignments. Remember, we learn through failure as well as success — and no one has to be perfect right out of the gate!
  • Get to know your instructors. Introduce yourself and ask your instructor about how they became interested in their field. If you feel confused about an assignment or reading, connect with them and request their recommendations. 
  • If you start to feel overwhelmed or stressed, reach out for support. Your Student Success Coach is always happy to talk to you about whatever challenges you’re experiencing.  
  • Finally, take time for yourself and celebrate each and every accomplishment!

Excited about heading back to school…but also a little nervous? You’re not alone! Get answers to some common questions from other prospective students, and learn about the people who’ll be there to support (and celebrate!) you in your education journey.

Like this post? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more inspiring stories and helpful tips. If you’re interested in sharing your own story, you can tell us about your education journey right here.


Written by Scarlet Bowen
Student Success Coach
Leave a comment 3 Comments
  • Brenda Faglie says:

    Right now I can’t afford internet. Are all the classes on line? I sure would like to get my high school diploma.

  • Cindy E Caldwell says:

    Hi. I haven’t taken classes in 30 years. I like to be ahead of the day rather than moment-to-moment or behind. My day starts at 3am and shuts off by 8pm. Is there a syllabus of books or downloads that I should check out before the start of school on June 8th, 2021?

  • fredline grosnegre says:

    hello im new at this school i need more information about my class i would like to star my class monday and tuesday that my only day off its is that okey for you i have kids as well thank you

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