What to expect when going back to school at 40

Deciding to go back to school as an adult can be frightening. But you’re not alone. In fact, each year, over 3 million adults make the decision to go back to school. 

Like many, you may be trying to decide if going back to school is right for you. So, we sat down with someone just like you – an adult in their 40’s wanting to make a change in their lives and advance their career. 

Here’s her candid story and advice on what going back to school in your 40’s is really like. 

Hi! My name is Lynda Scott. I thought about going back to college for quite some time before I finally enrolled when I was 43 years old. I knew I wanted to become a registered nurse, and I wasn’t getting younger, so I went for it. 

Since earning my degree as a registered nurse, I’m now employed as a PACU RN and work with patients to help them recover after surgery.

What did you do before you decided to go back to school?

Before I decided to go back to school, I was a licensed practical nurse (LPN). I’ve worked in several different positions throughout my career from the Emergency Room to homecare nursing. 

What motivated you to go back to school?

LPN’s were becoming obsolete. In order to advance my career, I need to advance my education and become registered, not only licensed. 

Were there any benefits to going back to school as an adult?

Yes, I think that I was able to focus more in class as an adult compared to when I was younger. The first time I went to school, to become an LPN, I was raising two young kids and had to work nights so I could attend class during the day. Online classes didn’t exist so I had to work around the available class times. 

Were there any negatives to going back to school as an adult?

Although my kids were grown up and in college when I decided to go back to school, it was still extremely difficult. I had to juggle my career as an LPN, time with my family, and find a way to fit classes and studying into my daily schedule. 

I was working long hours and wasn’t able to dedicate as much time to my studies and I would have liked. 

Do you have any advice for others considering going back to school as an adult?

  • You’ll be able to think of 100 excuses not to go back to school, but you need to push through that. Push forward and advance yourself!
  • If it’s something you really want to do, don’t let anything or anyone stop you.
  • A support system is key. My husband was always my biggest supporter and would help with anything I needed. Whether that be staying quiet so I could study, or quizzing me and running through flashcards together. 

Going back to school was one of the greatest decisions I’ve made for myself. Not only am I happier with my new career, but I also have better hours, better pay, and a better work-life balance.