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Starting College at 22 Years Old

written by: Leyla Norman•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 9/1/2010

Learn why it can be a good idea to wait to start college. Starting college at 22 years of age is not necessarily a bad thing. Explore why you might consider postponing your college career.

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    450px-Fettes College, Edinburgh Starting college at 22 years of age is probably a good idea for many people. Going to college does not mean that a person has to be 17 or 18 years old. Age does not indicate a person's readiness to enter into at least 2 years of intensive study. Taking time off from studying can give students a much-needed break and expose them to the wider world.

    Why It's a Good Idea

    Get some work experience.

    Students who have worked at least a year or more at a full-time job have a better understanding of what it takes to succeed in the world of work than those who enter college directly from high school. They know that a lot of maturity and hard work is necessary to do well as a professional. Book learning is not all it takes to get your foot in the door. Employers will want to see that you can hold down a job. Waiting to enter college can demonstrate to future employers that you are a deliberate decision-maker. You took time off to figure out what you really wanted to do with your life instead of jumping onto the "Let's all go to college" bandwagon. You have learned that a degree does not necessarily mean a good job will be handed to you the day after graduation.

    See the world, even it it's around the block.

    With few, if any, debts or obligations to keep you at home, consider traveling some. Volunteer for a significant length of time in one location. Travel to another country to do so, or stay in your home country and make a difference right where you are at. Volunteering will also allow you to test the waters of different fields of study and work without having to commit to one for decades and with thousands of dollars devoted to it for your education. Take off with some friends to do some hiking in a national park, take a road trip, or backpack across Europe, Africa, South America, or Asia. Learn what you can do on your own. Develop your independence, ingenuity, and creative problem-solving abilities.

    You'll enter college as a more mature individual.

    All of your new experiences will likely rapidly expand and shape your worldview into something perhaps a bit more sober and thoughtful. Entering college at 22 years of age will then mean that you are more ready to seriously engage in your studies, know how to have fun responsibly, and think about and act upon ways to use your education to better the world in some small or great way.

    What Else You'll Need to Know

    Scholarships and Grants

    Scholarships and grants often are geared toward individuals right out of high school who are entering college. You may have to do some extra searching for scholarships that you are eligible for based on your age and how long you have been out of school. Be prepared to tell scholarship committees how you have spent the last four years improving yourself and the world around you.

    You May Not Quite Fit In

    The other college freshmen you meet will live in the dorms most likely, and they may even seem a bit silly to you. You have more years and experience than they do, and it will likely show. Living with an 18 year-old roommate can be trying when you are of a different maturity level than he is.

    Your school work may be easier or harder for you than you expect it to be. Depending on the class and the skills you've utilized regularly (such as writing and doing math calculations), you may find that some subjects are really easy for you compared to the other freshmen. They may also be more difficult because you have not used or developed those particular skills since you were in high school.

    Enter college at 22 years of age, and you will probably find that you know a lot more about the world than your other classmates. You have traveled some, seen the world, and developed personal and social skills that the recent high school seniors have not. You will have more work experience and probably a better work ethic than students who have only worked part-time or not at all until now. This will all work together to help you take advantage of your education and complete it with good grades and within a decent time frame. There will be no need to hop from major to major and waste time and money until you have decided what you want to study. Volunteering and working for pay will help you narrow down your career choices through actual experience, not just through a standardized aptitude test you took as a high schooler.