5 Stories That Prove Going Back to School at 30 Is Possible
The thought of going back to school at your age is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Sometimes you can hardly wait to hit the books. Other days you have a mental image of yourself as the oldest person in the class, struggling to keep up with the demands of school alongside work and family responsibilities.
Despite what your inner fears are telling you, the college journey isn’t just for fresh-faced high school graduates. There are plenty of other college students who have stood in your shoes to face going back to school at 30—and beyond!
5 Stories of going back to school at 30 and beyond
We spoke with students like you who overcame obstacles to prove that going back to school at 30 is possible. Gain inspiration from their uplifting stories!
1. Going back to school after deployment
Anthony Treas was 34 years old and recently home from a 13-month deployment in Iraq when he decided it was time to go back to college. “I wanted the education that would help me obtain a career that I would enjoy, and to increase my income potential.”
Treas had big ambitions for his future career, but he also knew that college would pose some challenges. “I never did well in school, but I knew this time was different,” he says. Treas knew this was his chance to achieve greater things in his career, and he fully committed to his education. He worked with a tutor for difficult classes and introduced himself to every professor he had.
All the hard work paid off. After six years of school, Treas obtained a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and health behavior, and a master’s of public health, which led him to begin his life coaching business STRONG Men Coaching. “Now, I have my own business doing what I love, and I don't think it would have been possible without my education.”
2. Showing kids the value of education
Some people think it’s impossible to earn a degree once you have a family. That couldn’t be further from the truth for Stacy Verdick Case, owner of Peony Lane Designs. Her daughter was the motivation she needed to go back to college at 32.
“I had just given birth to my daughter, and I wanted to be able to tell her that college was important,” Verdick Case says.
There was just one problem—neither parent had finished college at that point. Determined to finish what she started and show her daughter the value of an education, Verdick Case entered the tuition reimbursement program at her workplace and enrolled in school.
“It was a struggle getting through all the work but it was so worth it,” Verdick Case says. “The best part was when I eventually did lose my job, having my degree really made me feel secure. I know that’s what employers want to see.”
3. Earning a degree for personal growth
Plenty of people go back to school with hopes of getting a promotion or increasing their salaries, but coach, speaker and writer Dillan DiGiovanni had more personal reasons in mind. Though he already ran a thriving coaching business, he felt like he’d left things unfinished when he dropped out of grad school at 22. “I felt like I wanted another degree to stay current and wanted to feel like I had finished that thing I started,” he says. “I didn't go back because I thought I had to, but I wanted to.”
DiGiovanni didn’t only overcome the age barrier to succeed in school. He was also undergoing a gender transition and often felt foggy and disoriented from hormone replacement therapy. “I also lacked confidence to be able to write well, but I pulled it off as I went along each semester,” he says.
Despite these hesitations, DiGiovanni is glad he pursued education because he was passionate about learning. “[People] should choose something they are interested in and passionate about because they will enjoy it much more,” he says. “Do it because you want to, to have the experience and knowledge.”
4. Using age to your advantage in law school
You might think young college students have an advantage over their more mature counterparts, but that’s not how David Roberson of Silicon Valley Property Management Group sees it. He attended law school in his late thirties to improve his employment opportunities.
“I had virtually no hesitations, but did realize it would be hard to work full time during the day and go to school at night for four years,” Roberson says. Luckily he had the full support of his wife, and the couple viewed his education as a commitment they were both undertaking.
Though Roberson began law school later than most students, he wholeheartedly believes his age gave him an advantage in the classroom. “I performed off the charts as a mature adult in law school. I'm confident my maturity played a big role in my success,” he says. “I personally feel that working adults have an extra incentive to perform well in school at that stage in their lives.”
5. Becoming a lifelong learner
Leigh Ann Newman took the traditional route to launching her career. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and communication at age 23 and thought her college days were over. “I never had any plans to get a graduate-level degree,” Newman says. That is, until she was hired by an international government consulting firm, who offered to pay for her to get a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
Newman knew an opportunity like this probably wouldn’t come around again. She took the leap and went back to school, despite having some hesitations. “It had been over 25 years since I’d been in college, and I was terrified I may not be able to keep up with the technologies and expectations of a modern MBA program,” she says. “I decided right at the beginning that no matter what it took, I was going to work hard and give every class and every assignment 100 percent effort.”
The hard work paid off, leading Newman to graduate in the top of her class. “My life experiences and the work ethic I had learned from twenty-plus years on the job gave me a different perspective on the tasks than other students,” she says. Newman once thought her education ended after undergrad, but now she views herself as a lifelong learner, keeping her eyes open for any opportunity to gain more knowledge. “I encourage anyone who is a lifelong learner to seize every opportunity to be taught something new.”
It's not too late to write your story
Going back to school at 30 doesn’t have to be scary. These stories show that with commitment, dedication and perseverance, it’s never too late to pursue a degree. Your years of experience and the maturity that comes with it might even give you a leg up in the classroom!
These inspiring stories prove that going back to school is possible at any age. But what if you can’t imagine balancing school with your other responsibilities? Learn how to make time for both work and school with our article, “10 Tangible Tips to Balance Working Full-Time and Going to College.”