Beginning grad school as an older student presents unique costs and benefits. Though, it is a popular path to take! In the US, the average age of students enrolled in graduate programs is 33 years old. Anyone unexcited by their current job can reinvigorate themselves with a return to school to refine their skills, sharpen their motivation, and redirect their professional lives. So, what were those unique factors that more mature graduate school potential applicants should consider? Read on to find out!
The rigor of graduate school is essential to consider when deciding whether to apply. The bulk of the time you spend working towards your degree is on your own. Most graduate programs involve longer readings, more assignments, and extensive group projects. Many graduate students will also have to balance classes and research. Given that you’re considering going back to school, it is probably safe to assume that you’re a “school person.” But are you willing to take your studies one step further than you did when getting your undergraduate degree?
The last time you were in student mode was likely at least a few years ago. This time could be an advantage, since you likely won’t be as prone to academic burnout (having had time to “recover” from our undergraduate degree). On the other hand, the career you embarked on after graduating most likely did require you to write research papers in MLA formatting or construct works cited pages. Going back to graduate school will require that you put the “student cap” back on.
As a graduate student, a key theme of your life will be “balance.” Graduate school is likely to not be your only “gig.” A potential benefit from this is that you’ll have to have a laser focus during study sessions. Also, remember that all you must balance to complete your degree will likely heighten the feeling of accomplishment once you successfully finish. Many schools also uniquely tailor their programs for busy students. Many programs offer part-time and online options. Additionally, there tend to be few fluff assignments in these programs. Graduate schools tend to grow your skillset strategically without throwing random filler courses at you that you must complete graduating.
The benefits of aging that can help your academic success. It’s common in college to be unsure if your major or school is for you, and this isn’t to say that you’ll have it all figured out once you get to grad school. But age typically brings some confidence in your choices that comes with knowing yourself better. Secondly, having more life experience when you get there will also probably help with stress management. You’ll likely know feelings of stress well and can handle them better.
Work experience is something else you’ll probably have more of than your classmates. One benefit here is having more in your pockets for your education. Secondly, going back to school after getting a foothold in the workforce can help you advance in your company. Some employers will even pay their employees to go back to school part-time to enhance their skills. Finally, you might be able to consider what went right or wrong in real life instances and apply those insights in school. Remember, though, that you won’t know all there is to learn, even if you’re already working in your field of study.
Having more work experience can give you a competitive edge in getting into programs. Of course, this will lengthen and enhance your resume. Further than that though, for your letters of recommendation, you will have more experiences to draw from for mentors, bosses, or managers. In your personal statement, you can elaborate on your professional life to demonstrate to admissions the value you could add to their program.
Every student can contribute something unique to class discussions and assignments. So, in making the decision to go back, you’ll be adding to the program you join, and schools are aware of that! Fear should not hold you back, but we do advise you that you consider the factors above before applying. Be even more informed as an applicant with help from TestPrepScore’s expert tutors and academic resources. Set yourself up for success with our guidance!