How Do I Go Back to School as an Adult?

Adult student studying her notes at a table

Are you debating on whether or not you want to go back to school? If you do not know where to begin, what degree to get or how to go back, here are some tips to help you get started.

Choose Your Learning Modality

If you are working a full-time job and do not know how to make the time to go back to school, you have a few different options. There are a variety of modalities specifically meant to support the learning needs of different students. Do some research and decide which may work best for you.


Taking online classes allows you to work at your own pace and work on your assignments whenever you have the time. It also allows you to work around your schedule as needed. They still offer a sense of community through online classrooms, as well as access to many of the traditional resources, such as school libraries, academic counselors, tech support and more.


If you learn better in person and want to spend some time on campus, you can always take evening classes. Head over to campus after work and spend a couple of hours in the classroom to learn from a professor face to face. This is a great option for those who work during the day but do not wish to take their coursework fully online.

Choose Your Degree Level


An associate’s degree takes about two years and is approximately 60 credit hours. This degree, which sits between a high school diploma or GED and a bachelor's degree, helps you qualify for entry-level jobs. They are typically offered at community and junior colleges, and oftentimes, universities allow credits from an associate's to be transferred towards the completion of a bachelor's.


A bachelor’s degree is a four year degree and is approximately 120 credit hours. Some students are able to graduate with a bachelor's in as little as three years due to summer classes, transfer credits, and fast-track programs. This degree qualifies you for entry-level jobs and some management positions, depending on the field you specialize in.


After you have earned your bachelor’s degree, you can obtain your master’s. A master’s degree takes one to two years full time and qualifies you for advanced positions. In many cases, master's degrees lead to an increase in wages, meaning that the degree often pays for itself in a few years. Popular career fields to earn a master's in include business, education, healthcare, and STEM.


After you have earned a bachelor’s degree, you have the option to earn your doctorate. This degree takes about three to five years full time. You may have to earn a master’s degree first, but this is not always the case. This degree signifies the highest level of mastery in a specific subject, qualifying you for many upper-level positions.

Reasons Why You Should Go Back to School

Many people go back to school to earn a raise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the more you learn, the more you earn.” The higher-level degree that you earn, the more money you have the potential to make. Others aim to develop new schools that can lead to taking on new and challenging responsibilities in the workplace.

If you go back to school and earn a degree in a different subject than you’ve studied previously, you could transition into a new work field. This may help you decide where your passion lies, or point you in the direction of a job you truly love.

Support Systems

Having a good support system is important when going back to school. It is helpful to have people on your side who are pushing you to succeed. Certain types of people can be the most important when it comes to supporting you in your new journey, including:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Employers
  • Professors

To learn more about joining a community of like-minded students at Grand Canyon University, visit our website or click the Request Information button on this page.


Measuring the value of education: Career Outlook. (n.d.). Retrieved from

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.