NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Connecticut resident Dina Petrosky was 42 when she decided to go back to school to get her master’s in communication.
“My job prospects had changed,” Petrosky tells MainStreet. “I was transitioning into owning my own business and my daughter was older. It just seemed like the right time to go back.”
Still, even with all signs pointing to yes, Petrosky started classes at the University of Rhode Island with a few trepidations.
“I was worried that I couldn’t do the work,” she says. “I was worried that the time involved would impact my family life. I was also worried about just fitting in because I was older.”
Petrosky soon discovered that these fears were unfounded, while other expectations missed the mark. MainStreet talked to adults who had already gone through the process and to education experts to find out what has changed and what the 30-plus set can expect when going back to school.
You’re not alone.
Many adult students, especially those heading back to school full-time, assume that they’ll be surrounded by 18- to 22-year-olds, but the truth is that classrooms have become increasingly diverse.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in recent years the increase in the number of students 25 and over has been larger than the increase in the number of younger students, and this pattern is expected to continue. NCES expects that by 2019 the rise in enrollments of students under 25 will increase by 9%, while enrollments of students 25 and over will increase by 23%
“In most schools, they are going to see lots of other adults in class with them,” Mike Doolin, author of The Success Manual for Adult College Students, says.