Going Back to College at 40 – What to Expect

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It is not uncommon for adults in their 40s to go back to college.

Layoffs, career changes, and the potential to boost income are just a few of the various reasons for going back to college at 40.

I’ve even signed up for some college classes online with a local community college. I love to learn and figured why not find out what else interests me?

If you are in the same position, I will share what to expect whether you take classes online, on campus, or both.

Going Back to College at 40 – Is it Worth It?

going back to college at 40

The thought of going back to college is daunting for some adults. When I signed up for classes I didn’t really know what to expect.

It helps not to focus on all the “stuff” you’ll have to do but rather keep in mind what your goals are.

For myself, I am taking classes for the love of learning and as a way to figure out what type of Bachelors degree I want to pursue.

The benefit of taking college classes in your 40s is that you are much wiser. In my 20s, going to college was a means to an end.

It wasn’t fun for me and I didn’t enjoy the process. This go round, I look at education in a much different light.

You will likely enjoy the process much more because your mindset is much different.

Go Online or On Campus?

There is a misconception that getting a degree online isn’t as good as going on campus. I’ve heard it from other people and I think it couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are some degrees which cannot be taken online no matter what. However, for those who are pursuing a degree that is available online, it is a huge convenience.

Older adults are usually holding down full-time jobs. Online courses allow them a way to fit college into their schedule.

Online doesn’t mean it will be easier. In fact, online classes are typically more demanding in terms of assignments and writing.

The instructors have to ensure that online students are grasping the information. This is often accomplished through rigorous writing assignments.

Tuition Costs – Apply for Student Aid

one hundred dollars

Online education is not more affordable than going to an actual campus. The cost per credit hour will cost the same and so will the books.

You will likely still need to apply for financial aid or obtain student loans. You can apply for federal student aid with FAFSA and see if you qualify for any grants.

It is really easy to apply. Be sure to input your information correctly! I had an error and was not able to correct it online.

Paperwork had to be mailed out to me and mailed back which prolongs the process!

Book Costs – Creative Ways to Find Cheap Textbooks

composition book

One thing is for sure, textbooks can be expensive! Some textbooks can cost hundreds of dollars.

The good news is that there is a way around this. It may not work for every textbook you need but every little bit helps!

Check Amazon and Ebay for Your Books

Amazon will usually have a lot of textbooks at discounted prices or available to buy used.

They also offer book rentals which can save you a lot of money. If you can get your books used at a decent price, go for it.

You can always sell them when you’re done. Ebay is another option but beware because some sellers are very aware that they are selling a textbook.

The prices are often hiked up because they take advantage of students who may need a book and cannot find it anywhere else.

Buy Older Editions

Older editions of textbooks typically cost a lot less than the newer editions. Before you buy one, you may want to ask your professor if it still meets the course requirements. In most cases, it is probably alright to do.

Check Your Local Library

I was actually surprised to find one of the textbooks I needed at my local library. It is a somewhat older book.

I placed it on hold and will be picking it up. That will save me some money until I can buy it or if I’m able to continue checking it out during the semester, even better!

Check Google Books Online

Another option that may save you a bit of money until you can buy the book you need is to search for it on books.google.com

Sometimes Google Books will provide several pages of a book to preview. If at the start of your course you only need to read 40 or so pages, you could be in luck finding it on Google Books.

Get Organized and Alleviate Stress!


This seems like a no-brainer but you have to actually take the time to do this! Each of your classes will have a syllabus.

Read them and make note of important assignment due dates, test dates, etc. Create your own schedule using these dates.

You will then be able to plan out which class to study for at which time. When to prepare your assignments and when to study for tests.

Having a schedule will alleviate a lot of stress between your work life, school life, and personal life.

Affording School – How I Supplement My Income Online

working online

Let’s face it, college is pretty darn expensive. Unless your employer is footing the bill or you’ve got enough grants and scholarships, you’ll need a way to supplement your income.

One way to supplement your income is by working online. I have made money online for years.

It was only after being laid off from my previous job that I decided to learn what it takes to create an online business and be full-time.

I decided to go back to school and enrolled in the Wealthy Affiliate online business training course.

What they teach would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if it were offered as an actual college degree. The best part is you can start learning for FREE.

Making money online has been around for years. However, it is still “young” in educational terms.

In a nutshell, my online business consists of creating niche websites. These websites make money through affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is simply promoting a company’s products or services in exchange for a percentage of the sale (commission) when someone makes a purchase using your affiliate link.

affiliate marketing flowchart

Why Create an Online Business while in College?

There are numerous reasons why creating an online business in college is beneficial. For one thing, it is convenient.

The same way you may take online college courses because of the convenience, starting a business online works the same way.

An online business can fit into your schedule, not the other way around. Another great reason is the extra income that it can create.

Would several hundred dollars a month make a difference in your household? What about several thousand? It is doable with an online business!

There are students inside of Wealthy Affiliate who have gone on to make more after following the training:

Imagine quitting your day job and working on your online business full-time while you continue to get your education?

You never know what an online business can provide. You already have the drive and determination it takes by going back to school.

Apply that same drive and determination to an online business that is based on a passion of yours. There is no telling what you can accomplish!

I highly suggest you read my Wealthy Affiliate FAQ page and find out if an online business is an option for yourself (I believe it is no matter who you are).

I’m really excited about going back to school and I’m excited for you as well! Let me know what you’re pursuing in the comments below.

About Eartha

Hey there! My name is Eartha. I'm a full-time internet marketer. I created a blog and freed myself from a 9-to-5. You can too and it starts with your own self-hosted WordPress blog. Check out the web hosting I use for my niche blogs. Includes a FREE domain name, FREE SSL, and WordPress auto-installed for you.

6 thoughts on “Going Back to College at 40 – What to Expect

  1. Hi there
    This is a great post on this particular topic and well done for posting.
    The message I’m getting here is that , we are never too old to start again and once we have the desire and the right attitude, nothing is going to stop us.
    Some grea tips here on how to get started and how we can save a lot of money by being clever, shop around and also how to finance our schooling by working an online business.
    Well done again and best of luck
    Cheers…Phil Browne

    1. Hi Phil,

      Thank you for your feedback! I agree we are never too old to invest in our education. I do hope that some of my tips can help save money in terms of textbooks. Thanks again for stopping by. I appreciate your comment!

  2. Hello here, thanks for great ideas presented in your website. Everybody can go in college at any time, no doubt. It is doable and everybody who wants to hang diploma on the wall, can achieve success.
    However I wonder what is going to be later. Sitting in office eight hours or hunting for high paying jobs because students loan is still here?
    I think that being knowledgeable in the online business nowadays is a best idea. We could have freedom, money and ability to choose for what we are ready next time.
    Wealthy Affiliate is one of the best places to aquire this type of knowledge.
    All the best spreading word about best ways to succed and get the right education.

    1. Hi Nemira,

      I totally get what you’re saying about what happens after getting a degree. Often times it does result in working a desk job in order to pay back student loans.

      I think pursuing a degree is wonderful if that is one’s desire. However, it is smart to create another stream of income and an online business can do just that.

      Thank you for your feedback!

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