Nothing may deter middle-aged people from going back to school so much as their dislike of the idea of taking more standardized tests. Returning and non-traditional students who are looking to get their undergraduate degree are likely planning to transfer from a community college or other institution and thus avoid having to take the dreaded a SAT a first or second (or third!) time. It’s rare for someone who has been out of high school a long time to want to go directly to a four year college or university, and many institutions don’t allow it, seeming to operate under the assumption that there is a statue of limitations on one’s high school diploma.
Students who have recently graduated high school are able to attend college as a freshman, but it’s rare that someone who has been out of high school for five or more years will enter college as a freshman. There are a variety of reasons why this could be the case that have nothing to do with any university’s policies, of course, but the idea that a person’s knowledge, skill-level and intelligence could expire does exist in the world of higher education.
Standardized test scores also expire. Generally this isn’t a big deal for tests like the ACT or SAT, tests which, if a student is going to retake, he or she will likely retake in a short amount of time. For tests like the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) however, the possibility of expiration can be a bigger hassle for anyone looking to earn a first, second or even third graduate degree over the course of a number of years. While it’s common for students to enter a graduate program straight from college, many other students who are interested in an advanced degree may delay graduate school until they’ve traveled, saved money or gained practical work experience.
Practical doctorate degrees like a Doctorate of Education may not be pursued by a student until he or she is well into his or her career, and possibly several years after he or she has earned a master’s degree. Despite already taking the GRE (and presumably earning a high enough score to gain entrance to a master’s program) this person may need to spend the time and money to study for take the GRE again, depending on the admissions requirements of the program in question.
Granted, earning a first (or second or third) graduate degree is completely a matter of choice and if the thought of taking the GRE multiple times is that unappealing to the person, he or she can of course opt out. But having to reprove one’s intelligence (not to mention pay even more money to the Educational Testing Service, an organization the person has likely been giving money to since taking his or her PSAT) can be frustrating, even insulting.
Having to take a standardized test like the GRE (or GMAT or MCAT) later on in life can be a little bit like those nightmares lots of people have where they dream that they’re late to take their AP English Language exam only to find out that they’re not wearing shoes and the test is in a completely different building. Only this time, they’re not even dreaming. Something about sitting in a classroom with a proctor at the front of the room and filling out bubbles can make even the highest-achieving professional adult feel like an insecure teenager again.