I’m 23, started my company while in high school and never went to college. Built my tech startup into a $5M+ company. I’m recognised in my field with various awards under my name, spoke at numerous international conferences and guest lectured at graduate schools.
I came from the British system. Scored AAAB for my A Levels. Didn’t apply to any college as I was busy building my startup at that time.
Now that my company is doing well and I have some free time on my plate, I wish to go back and get a degree. My board and shareholders are supportive of my decision.
Are there any colleges that accept people my age? I’m pretty sure most undergrads are 18 years old and I’m significantly way way older than them… Not sure if I can understand them or even make friends with them… In case I can’t enter a traditional undergrad programme, I am keen on entering either Harvard Extension, Columbia GS, Yale Eli Whitney or Brown RUE programme, though keep in mind I’m an international student and my chances of admission may be lower. Note that I do not require financial aid.
College is always worth it if it’s something you want. But clearly you have the ‘it’ factor.
Going to an extension or general studies - ehhh. - why? If you truly want college and as a 23 year old the experience will be different than at 18, but then go to school. For real. Even if it’s not elite. But how much flexibility do you have to both run your business and be a student.
You might look at programs structured for successful entrepreneurs to grow to the next level. Shorter. More targeted. I don’t know what’s out there but you might look a Babson, which is the #1 college for entrepreneurship. Or talk to them about they can help a student like you take what you’ve created to the next level.
I had the privilege to go through prestigious fellowships and top accelerator programs and I’m quite glad that I went through them, it forged me into who I am today.
However, it dawned on me that I’m only young once. I’m sure when I’m in my 30s, I’ll definitely regret not being able to enjoy what a teenager is supposed to enjoy. Thus, if possible, I’m looking for a traditional college experience, if possible, where I can stay in dorms, make friends, enjoy greek life etc. Although this could be ironic as I’m a non-traditional student who wants to study in a traditional college program.
My kid started his venture while at Brown. He found the flexibility of the open curriculum, the resources of the Nelson center, the various in house funding vehicles and the extensive alumni network invaluable.
By the time he graduated he had secured angel funding well into the 7 figures, secured industry leading advisors, and had anchor investors that are household names.
As a result of the support received his venture was fast tracked through a leading accelerator, several of the graduate schools provided introductions that led to changes in state legislation and media attention.
So yes I think college is still worth it😀
The RUE program is a perfect option for someone such as yourself. You would actually be relatively young. You will have all of the benefits and resources available to those matriculated at Brown and be able to customize your curriculum to leverage your experience and focus on your academic interests.
You can easily find and review the dozens of successful ventures founded at Brown through this link.
You likely need to check school by school about staying in a dorm at your age. Imagine an 18 year old being told their roommate is 24.
I imagine each school will have a residential policy so you might check into that. And cast your net wider.
Harvard extension is not Harvard (imho) no matter what they say.
What happens with your business if you enroll somewhere ?
I think it’s wonderful to go to school. My daughter has an 85 year old auditing a class.
But I’m not sure that at 23 your experience will be normal amongst 18 year olds. I would check with each school to say how you might be integrated. In class is one thing. In a dorm, etc may or may not be another.
Best to investigate I believe ….
Or watch the movie Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield. Ok it won’t help you but it’s a classic.
Yes and no. Do you really need a diploma? You can still probably get a lot out of program, but I doubt that you will enjoy shared dorm room with 18 years old at 24, frat parties and will have the same interests :).
Speaking a bit from an experience… I was an international transfer student who had to change major and country due to family circumstances. I was 23-24 studying with 19-20. I did not start at ground 0 (as I was a transfer). I felt totally out of place socially among 19-20 years old even in classes! I did not live on campus. I’ve got the diploma, but I have never felt “connected”.
Think of the following situations: you are set for a project with 3 other classmates. Your classmates do not care much about the quality of the project or postpone working on it until the very last minute - guess who is going to lift the project? Yep, you are as a responsible adult going to do work for 3-4 people, since the professor does not care and grades “team” work…
Grad school was a bit better since there were many students of my age and we indeed had some similar interests. So choose program that really fits you.
P.S. My daughter is on a dance team in college (she is 21). They have a grad student on the team. The girl is 23. They call her grandma
I started college at your age but did not live on campus. In fact, I ended up in a house with people older than I was. I have taken classes in my 30’s and even 50’s and for me, in some ways, it was harder when I looked more like 18! I moved to a new city to do it at age 23 and since I didn’t live on campus it was lonely at first. For many schools you could find roommates who are professionals or grad students and that helps a lot.
The years in college for 18 - 22 are unique, it’s a brief period of time, a real transition into adulthood filled with immaturity, when my daughter graduated a year early she decided to go elsewhere for grad school because she was done with that part and knew it would be difficult if she stayed with her college friends who would be seniors. She loves her current cohort of 22+ aged students, wine tastings over frat parties. You can’t go back.
I was also going to suggest Brown’s RUE program (don’t know if any of those students stay in dorms – many are adults with their own households, so most don’t). But you should also look at colleges that attract non-traditional students, especially military veterans – those students are often just a bit older than college age, so you’d have a cohort. You might also look at schools where a relatively small percentage of upper-classmen live on campus. You’re not that much older than a traditional college student, but you might not want to put up with university housing and living with 18-year-olds. If a lot of students live off-campus, you’d fit in pretty easily and perhaps even find housemates so you can still live with fellow students. If you’re interested in Greek life, a lot of frats don’t require members to live in frat housing.
Rivers Cuomo was born in 1970. After Weezer’s first album was a huge success he went to Harvard starting in 1996 (didn’t finish though). He was looking to fit in with the rest of the undergrads, and did apparently blend incognito despite the slight age difference (started age 24). Harvard ppl feel free to correct or comment if you were there at the same time.
Yes. A better question might be whether there are any that don’t accept students your age. Other than maybe the service academies I am not aware of any.
Steve Wozniak was born in 1950, graduated high school in 1968, and then finished his coursework at UC Berkeley in 1986 (apparently he didn’t get his degree until 1987). In between he had done several things including getting kicked out of UC Boulder for hacking their computer system, and co-founding Apple Computers with Steve Jobs. Compared to him you will be quite a young student.
Many, many universities will have some undergraduate students your age. If you attend a university that has graduate programs, there will also be quite a few graduate students that are your age or older, in some cases quite a bit older.
The two most important questions might be: Do you want to do it? Which universities would be a good fit for you?
College is always "worth it’ if you can afford it (out of pocket PLUS opportunity costs) and you know what you hope to accomplish by enrolling. It’s often “worth it” if you don’t know what you hope to accomplish-- you could get lucky and meet a professor who gets you so passionate about something you want to study that and nothing else- but luck is not a strategy as you well know as an entrepreneur.
There are lots of older students on campus. Students who enlisted in the military out of HS; students who did two years on campus then fulfilled their religious mission obligation (common within the LDS community); and students who got an Associates degree, worked for a few years, and now want a Bachelor’s.
I wouldn’t limit yourself to “official programs” for non-traditional students- you will find a lot of non-traditional students even in traditional Bachelor’s programs.
I have a college friend who did not take undergrad seriously. He took a few leaves of absence, traveled, worked, etc. He went back in his late 20’s, THEN applied to med school and is now Chief of his specialty at a major teaching hospital. I am sure someone told him when he was 28 “you will be 40 some day (hopefully)”. You can either be 40 and be a physician, or be 40 and NOT be a physician. Your choice".
Whatever it is you hope to do after university- good luck to you!!! Never too late!
I agree with this and will also add that even traditional college age students come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences. Students are not all coming from a stereotypical family home where they were supported by parents. They may have been independent from their parents as teenagers and working to support themselves (as I was), or may have been the breadwinner in the family working to support a parent or even their own children, etc.
To put it simply, you can go anywhere and find your people. It does help to live off campus but you can start in a dorm until you find alternatives, or start out with off campus living. You really aren’t that much older. I think life experience is a bigger gap than age in your case. You can contribute a lot in the classroo.
The option to do an online program is always there. Some state universities have these.
Look at Union Institute as another example. Also low residency programs like Goddard, where you spend 10 days per semester on campus and otherwise work on your own. You would get a lot of credit for life experience. Ditto UMass’University without Walls.
My sense, though, is that you are more interested in the traditional classroom experience.
Honestly I’m thinking of Business Admin or Management but only 2 Ivy schools offer Business for Undergrad: Wharton and Cornell
I’m not sure if I’m eligible for MBA as I don’t have an undergraduate degree. I know some universities don’t require a undergrad degree if they have a compelling background but it requires the GMAT/GRE. Even then, MBAs are more grad focused, I prefer a undergrad close knit community type of education and experience what I had missed out on