Ways Going Back to School Can Change Your Life Forever

Updated By Janessa Armstrong on March 3, 2021

There may be many reasons why you haven’t earned your degree. Maybe you struggle in an academic setting; maybe you’ve had to devote your time towards dealing with a personal crisis; maybe you don’t see the benefit of earning a degree. Many individuals consider earning a college degree to be a rite of passage, but you might be hesitant to work toward this goal if you’re not sure what you’re going to get out of it.

A lot of work goes into earning a degree, but what comes out could change your life forever. Here are 5 things that could happen if you choose to go back to school.

1. Better Health, Self-Esteem, and Confidence

Earning a college degree could increase your lifespan. It seems counterintuitive; shouldn’t all the stress surrounding college cut a few years off a typical lifespan? According to several studies, those who earn a college degree have a decrease in mortality rates by 15 to 19 percent. It’s been theorized that access to an education allows for greater knowledge and access to better healthcare. Not only does your physical health improve, your mental health can take a turn for the better as well. Earning a degree can give you a sense of control in your life, which can help improve your mental state.

With your mental health on the rise, it’s little wonder your self-esteem can improve as well. Accomplishing tasks or getting through hard challenges can increase your confidence to handle similar challenges in the future. You can look back on your life and remember how you navigated those challenges and use that knowledge when future issues pop up.

2. Developing Skills Outside of the Classroom

Beyond having a healthier outlook on life, there are things you can learn in college that aren’t always taught in a class. You learn these skills by doing, and they are lifelong skills you can use no matter where your life path might take you.

One major skill is perseverance. Learning how to see something to its end, no matter how hard it might be, is a worthy skill to have. Earning a degree is a major exercise in perseverance, and there are minor goals all along the way that help you hone it: tests, assignments, projects. All of these cultivate perseverance.

Another life skill is developing critical thinking. In a time where information is readily available at our fingertips, it’s important to know how to analyze it and make it personally useful. One of the most important things that learning critical thinking can do is to make you challenge your norms. It will also teach you how to apply reason—not just your emotions—to situations and become a better problem solver.

College is a great place for learning and practicing the “soft skills” that many employers look for in a prospective employee. Not all of these skills will come easy, but with time and practice you could develop these skills that will help you create a worthwhile career.

3. Professional and Other Connections

One of the many benefits of attending college is networking with other individuals. Many of the relationships you make at college can have long-lasting impacts. You could meet friends that enrich your life. Some of your classmates might go on to be founders of successful businesses or become quite renowned. While no one’s future is guaranteed, college opens up a lot of possibilities in people. Building these connections early on could make your future brighter.

Your instructors are another good source of networking and knowledge. At some colleges, such as Independence University, your instructors are actual professionals who work in their fields and have real-world experiences, making their lessons full of solid advice with more practical application. In addition, many instructors enjoy mentoring their students and helping them in their life and careers. Some instructors can even become cherished friends.

Even if you’re more introverted or want to focus on schoolwork over socializing, it’s important to know that these connections can change your life. Having a good relationship with your instructor not only means you can get more help with challenging assignments, but it could mean you get a job position based on a recommendation. Reach out and start those relationships!

4. Inspiring a Love of Education

An unforeseen side effect of earning a degree is its importance to those around you. If you have children, they will most likely also seek an education if you do as well. Up to eighty percent of students with educated parents are encouraged to attend a college or university. A study published by the Lumina Foundation called, “It’s Not Just the Money,” discovered that the more education both parents received, the more likely it would be that their children would follow in their footsteps.

It’s not just your children that could benefit from you receiving an education. There may be friends, coworkers, or other acquaintances who look at what you’ve accomplished and go try it for themselves. Your actions affect more than those in your immediate circle of friends. You never know whom you might inspire.

5. More Professional Growth Opportunities

This may be the most well-known benefit of earning a college degree, but what does it actually do for you? For starters, most careers with growth opportunities usually require a degree at the entry-level positions, and that sets you apart from other job seekers. A degree acts as shorthand that you have specific knowledge, and that you’re capable of working hard. While there may be stories of people without degrees making it big in a professional setting, these are exceptions. Most jobs that don’t require degrees usually don’t have many ways or opportunities for growth.

With growth and career options come pay raises, bonuses, and the ability to more easily swap career fields. Even if your degree is in a completely different field than your new career trajectory, the knowledge you’ve learned in your degree program can often be applicable to many different arenas. If you’re feeling stuck in your current job, or want access to a career path with more options, a degree can give you those opportunities.

As you can see, there are many benefits to earning a college degree. Many of these can change your life if you go back to school. The road may be difficult at times, but it will be worth it. Not just for you, but for the ones you care about too.

If you would like to start a degree program that focuses on your future career, Independence University offers career-focused programs in Business, Technology, Healthcare, and Graphic Arts. At IU, you’re online, but never alone.


  1. https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-effect-of-college-education-on-mortality/
  2. https://online.maryville.edu/blog/going-back-to-school-at-50-little-known-benefits-of-a-college-education/
  3. https://www.universities.com/articles/pros-and-cons-of-going-back-to-studies-after-30/
  4. https://www.achievetestprep.com/college/10-ways-degree-completion-will-change-your-life
  5. https://study.com/blog/how-going-back-to-school-as-an-adult-can-change-your-life.html
  6. https://www.luminafoundation.org/resource/its-not-just-the-money/
  7. https://www.luminafoundation.org/files/resources/its-not-just-the-money.pdf
  8. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2016/05/26/critical-thinking-for-college-career-and-citizenship