Can I go to university at 60?

Quick Answers

Yes, you can absolutely go to university at age 60 or older. More and more seniors are enrolling in higher education later in life for enrichment, career changes, intellectual stimulation, and more. Many colleges and universities actively welcome and recruit older adult learners.

Benefits of Attending University After 60

There are many benefits to attending university later in life:

– Learn new skills and expand your knowledge in subjects you’re passionate about
– Meet new people and build social connections
– Feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in earning a degree
– Gain qualifications to change careers or advance in your current field
– Keep your mind engaged and delay cognitive decline
– Enjoy campus life and student activities typically geared towards younger adults

Challenges of Attending University After 60

However, there can also be some challenges:

– Handling a heavy course workload if you’ve been out of school for decades
– Commuting to campus and navigating large school buildings
– Relating to much younger classmates and professors
– Covering tuition and other educational expenses on a fixed income
– Managing health issues that may interfere with coursework
– Adapting to new technologies used in the classroom

Proper planning and utilizing resources can help overcome these challenges.

Is it Too Late to Start a Degree After 60?

It’s never too late to enroll in higher education and work towards a degree, even after age 60. Plenty of seniors start bachelor’s or master’s programs in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s.

Some key points:

– Many universities do not have an age limit on undergraduate or graduate admissions
– Older students can attend full-time or part-time, at a pace that works for them
– Life experience is valued in the classroom and can enrich learning
– Online programs provide flexibility if commuting is an issue
– Financial aid like scholarships or tuition waivers may be available

With a proactive approach, the doors to higher education are open regardless of age.

Statistics on Older University Students

Here are some statistics on students over 60 enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges:

Year Number of students over 60
1980 817,000
2000 1.7 million
2020 3.1 million

The National Center for Education Statistics projects over 4 million university students will be age 65 or older by 2027.

It’s clear the trend of seniors on campus and in the classroom is on the rise.

Famous People Who Earned Degrees After 60

Plenty of famous figures stepped foot on a college campus for the first time later in life:

– Actor Alan Rickman was 46 when he graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
– Journalist Helen Thomas completed her bachelor’s degree at age 46 through correspondence courses
– Retired NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson earned a master’s degree at age 63
– Bestselling novelist Frank McCourt graduated college at age 66 and went on to win a Pulitzer Prize
– Politician Charles Milliken earned his law degree at age 71 and served as U.S. ambassador to Germany at age 73

Their examples demonstrate it’s truly never too late to expand your education.

Applying to College After 60

If you’ve decided to apply to college as an older adult learner, here is an overview of the application process:

Choosing a School

– Consider location, cost, academic programs, campus life, class formats, application requirements, and available support services for older students

– Look for colleges that actively encourage lifelong learners of all ages to apply

– Reach out to admissions counselors with any questions about being an older applicant

Meeting Admissions Requirements

– You still need to submit prior academic transcripts, test scores, essays, and other application materials

– Schools may ask about your motivations and goals as a mature student

– Emphasize life experiences and knowledge you’ll bring to the classroom

Exploring Financial Aid Options

– Complete the FAFSA form to see what traditional federal aid you qualify for

– Research scholarships, veteran benefits, tuition assistance programs, tuition waivers, grants, and student loans offered through the school

– Significant financial aid is available specifically for older learners

With planning and effort, the admissions process is very manageable at any age.

Being an Older University Student

If admitted, here are some tips for being a successful university student later in life:

Connecting with Other Older Students

– Seek out clubs, groups, or social gatherings specifically for mature students

– Bond over shared experiences adjusting to student life again

Building Relationships with Younger Students

– Be open to working on group projects with younger classmates

– Offer mentorship and real-world advice when appropriate

Communicating with Professors

– Make an effort to meet professors during office hours

– Be proactive about explaining your background and any special needs

Leveraging Your Life Experience

– Share relevant examples and insights from your career during class discussions

– Use organizational and time management skills developed as a working adult

Integrating into campus culture may require effort, but brings immense rewards.

Choosing Classes as an Older Student

Carefully selecting your courses is key to success as an older learner. Consider these tips when enrollment time comes:

Mix of Challenging and Manageable Classes

– Balance higher-level classes in your major with some less intensive gen ed requirements

– Don’t overload yourself, especially the first semester back

Subjects Relevant to Your Goals

– Ensure required major prerequisites align with your desired degree and career aspirations

– Select interesting electives that expand your knowledge

Delivery Format

– Try a blend of online and in-person classes if possible

– In-person provides student interaction; online offers scheduling flexibility

Professor Reputation

– Check ratings on sites like Rate My Professor when available

– Avoid professors with inflexible policies or poor communication

With strategic course selection, you can craft a personalized academic schedule.

Paying for College After 60

financing a degree later in life takes creativity and resourcefulness. Here are smart strategies to cover education costs:

Completing the FAFSA

– Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid every year

– U.S. citizens/permanent residents should qualify for low-interest federal loans or work-study

Scholarships and Grants for Non-Traditional Students

– Search for awards targeting women, veterans, seniors, part-time students, etc.

– Check college, community, nonprofit, and corporate scholarship sources

Employer Tuition Reimbursement

– See if your workplace offers tuition benefits for employees seeking degrees

– Relevant coursework can enhance your current role

Tax Benefits

– Claim education credits like the American Opportunity Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit

– Deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest paid

Other Options

– Payment/tuition plans to spread out costs over time
– Home equity loans if you own property
– Crowdfunding campaigns explain your “why” and invite donations

With creativity and patience, finding financial aid is possible at any stage of life. Don’t let money concerns deter you from pursuing your educational dreams.

Concern: “I Won’t Fit In at My Age”

Some prospective older students worry about fitting in socially on campus among much younger classmates. Here are tips to smoothly integrate into the student community:

Join Clubs and Organizations

– Seek out groups focused on topics or causes you care about

– Having shared interests helps you naturally connect with students of all ages

Live On Campus if Possible

– On-campus housing immerses you in student life

– Having a roommate can introduce you to new people

Attend Campus Events

– Go to academic talks, athletic games, entertainment events and more

– Cheer on university teams and show school spirit

Dine on Campus

– Eat in the dining hall or food court to be among other students

– Suggest off-campus meals to get to know classmates better

Remember You’re Not Alone

– Many schools have specific groups and services for mature learners

– There are likely other older students also making adjustments

While it may take time, becoming part of campus culture is absolutely achievable. Focus on your shared interests, not your differences.

Concern: “I’m Too Busy Working Full-Time”

Juggling full-time work and a heavy course load can be very challenging. Here are tips for employed older students to balance it all:

Talk to Your Supervisor

– Explain your academic goals and see if a flexible schedule is possible

– Perhaps adjust your hours or condense your shifts

Consider Going Part-Time if Possible

– This lightens your workload if finances allow it

– Remember having a degree may lead to a higher salary later

Take Online Classes

– Online provides flexibility to complete coursework evenings or weekends

– Working asynchronous formats let you watch lectures on your own time

Use Commuting Time Efficiently

– Listen to recorded lectures or prep for classes during your travels

– Turn small pockets of time into study sessions

Find Energy Boosts

– Maintain healthy habits like a consistent sleep schedule, regular exercise, and balanced diet

– Socialize with classmates as a break and energizer

It’s challenging but absolutely possible. Draw on your time management skills and be patient with yourself.

Concern: “I’m Out of Practice with Schoolwork”

Many older students worry their academic skills are rusty. Here are tips for refreshing study habits:

Audit a Class First if Possible

– Sit in on a course simply for enrichment, without taking it for credit

– Gets you comfortable with lectures, note taking, classroom technology, etc.

Review Material Before Classes Start

– Read assigned texts early and brush up on foundations

– Complete pre-term orientation modules if offered

Refresh Writing Skills

– Take a refresher writing course or use free online resources

– Visit the campus writing center for tutoring support

Learn Classroom Tech

– Request tutorials on using learning management systems, hardware, etc.

– Don’t be afraid to ask classmates or professors for assistance

Use Academic Support Services

– Sign up for tutoring, join study groups, or take advantage of professor office hours

Most schools offer robust resources to help students of all ages transition back to the classroom. Staying proactive and asking for help early on can prevent any major struggles.


Attending university after age 60 is absolutely achievable with proper planning and support. From enriching intellectual pursuits to starting an entirely new career path, higher education offers immense value later in life. If your goal is to earn a degree in your 60s or beyond, don’t let any stereotypes hold you back. With motivation and resourcefulness, students of any age can succeed on campus and in the classroom. The pursuit of knowledge never has to end.

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