Very often there are people that choose to enter the work force after high school instead of starting college. Many of those people decide later in life to go to college and get a bachelors. I believe this usually happens in your late 20's to early 30's but it's not unheard of to have people in their 40's in college. To me it seems like this isn't an unusual occurrence for state colleges and many universities but it seems that it would be much for difficult for this type of student to enter an Ivy League.

The chances of being accepted into an Ivy League are always small, however is it much harder on an older student? I believe there are exceptions for people that enter the military but I have a feeling that even a brilliant older student would be wasting their time applying to an Ivy League for a BS.

  • In the US age discrimination is illegal. – Drecate Aug 7 '15 at 22:18
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    @Drecate- So is racial discrimination but there is still a problem with Asian students getting into Ivy Leagues. But aside from that, isn't there other issues like high school transcripts being less relevant? Would they have to start at a community college and transfer in? – cspirou Aug 7 '15 at 23:05

Regular college admissions are mainly set up to handle people just graduating from high school. But they do get applications from older students and this can often be beneficial in promoting a certain type of diversity in their incoming class.

Many universities also have explicit admissions and scholarship programs for older students. These often free you from the requirement to live in freshman dorms with 18 year olds or allow you to study part-time.

This is just one example: http://admissions.yale.edu/eli-whitney


I might start at a community college or state school, and then think about transferring to a better school. (My college progression: City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, Stanford University)

As RoboKaren says, look for special programs for older students. Good luck to you!

  • This question is a general curiosity and not specific to me. I already have a Ph.D so I am not interested in continuing education. However I am very interested in the challenges people go through later in life and if Ivy Leagues are sensitive to non-traditional students. – cspirou Aug 8 '15 at 8:44

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