How to Get a Degree in Your 50s

by Jennifer Simon
Students in their 50s can successfully complete a college degree.

Some people in their 50s choose to start and complete a college degree. In some cases, they might not have gone to college earlier because of financial constraints. Others completed some college courses before taking time off to raise a family or fulfill other obligations. Still others might seek a degree after a job loss. Obtaining a college degree later in life is realistic if you are willing to complete the enrollment process and work hard in school. There are specific steps to help you reach your goal.

Search on the Internet for local colleges in addition to online college programs. Visit any of the campuses that interest you to get a feel for the atmosphere. The E Campus Tours website recommends picking up a college degree catalog while you are on campus, as well as a class schedule for the following semester.

Review all of the information you gathered and select a college. Generally, you can start the college application process online, but you also need to make an appointment with someone in the admissions office. Complete and submit all required enrollment paperwork.

Provide the required transcripts for acceptance into the college of your choice. If you have not attended college before, you'll need to provide a copy of your high school transcript. If you are returning to college, you must supply a copy of your transcript from the previous college, listing the courses you have been completed.

Schedule an appointment with the financial aid office. Older students might be eligible for certain grants or tuition assistance, according to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid website, so ask specifically about that. The financial aid office also can help you begin the process of applying for a student loan.

Select the major in which you hope to obtain a degree. Schedule a meeting with an academic adviser in order to enroll in classes for the next semester. The Fast Web website reminds student's in their 50s to balance their class loads with other obligations, such as work.

Buy the needed textbooks before the semester starts. The Fast Web website notes that taking a selection of online classes or all online classes can be beneficial for older students, because they can set their own schedules. Every semester, check the class requirements listed in the degree catalog to make sure that you are completing all of the necessary courses in order to graduate on time. Remember: Some courses are offered only one semester a year and are prerequisites for advanced classes.

About the Author

Jennifer Simon has been a copywriter since 2007, a copyeditor since 2004 and currently teaches English Composition at Full Sail University. Her edited articles have appeared in "The Washington Post," "The Huffington Post" and "The Network Journal." Simon has a Master of Arts degree from Duquesne University with a focus in modern English grammar, linguistics and editing.

Photo Credits

  • teacher & students image by Luisafer from Fotolia.com