Going back to school as an adult: what to do?

16 Jun 2021


Do you already have several years of professional experience behind you and want to acquire new skills, move on to other positions or retrain? Whatever your age, it is never too late. There are two ways to take further training: evening classes or distance learning.

Why go back to school as an adult?

Every year, many adults choose to return to education for four main reasons. There are, of course, others, depending on the individual's professional situation.

Training for a more senior position

After a few years' experience, the prospect of professional development towards certain positions of responsibility may force you to follow a specific training course. This will allow you to develop your skills and obtain a diploma or professional qualification.

Refresher course

Some fields, such as marketing, have undergone such changes in recent years that the knowledge you acquired at school 5 or 10 years ago may already be partly obsolete. In this case, vocational training or further training courses will help you to "stay in the picture".

Returning to study for a new career

For adults who wish to retrain and radically change their professional career, a return to education is often essential. Don't hesitate to do a professional skills assessment with a specialist. This will help you to develop your training project and make the right decisions.

Finding a job

Jobseekers can embark on training leading to a diploma or qualification to enhance their employability and return to work. Periods of unemployment can also be an opportunity to return to education.

How to go back to school?

Taking an online course


Today, many organisations, but also major schools such as IPAG, have included online courses in their training catalogue. These allow working professionals in particular to train in their free time and to adapt their schedule. This type of training, which is compatible with a professional life in parallel, is therefore attracting more and more employees.

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Starting a Professional Transition Project (PTP)

The PTP, formerly known as Congé Individuel de Formation (Individual Training Leave), allows any employee, under certain conditions, to take time off work to follow a training course leading to a qualification that will enable him to develop professionally or to change jobs. The employee is paid throughout the duration of the training.

Choosing the Validation of Acquired Experience (VAE)

VAE allows people to obtain a diploma or a certification, registered in the RNCP, based on their experience, whether salaried or not. VAE is accessible at any age, and applications are evaluated by a jury which decides whether or not to validate the experience of the applicant. VAE can lead to a national diploma (Bachelor's or Master's level) or a certificate of professional qualification.

How to finance your return to education?

The issue of tuition fees is sometimes a concern for adults who are considering further education or study. If the training is initiated by your company, it is important to know that your company will fund the entire course. If not, here are the financing options available to you.

The Personal Training Account (CPF in French)

The CPF can be used by all employees who wish to train during their career and carry out a VAE. The training chosen must be eligible for the CPF, which is the case for RNCP-registered courses such as those offered by IPAG Online. The CPF is funded by the employee and is limited to €5,000. Remember to check your balance regularly and use it.

Support from Pôle Emploi and local authorities

If you are a jobseeker, your adviser can inform you about the specific aid you can receive, guide you and help you to put together your training file. You should also consider applying for assistance from local authorities, mainly the Regions but also the Departmental Councils or Town Halls.

Personal financing and apprenticeship

If your CPF account, the aid from your region or from Pôle Emploi do not cover all the costs of your training, you can contribute to the financing of your training yourself. Some courses are quite expensive, especially when they lead to a diploma after one or two years of study. You should know that apprenticeship can enable you to finance your studies in full.

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