Being a nontraditional student does not condemn you to a life of mediocrity. Though it may take a decent investment self-discipline and ingenuity to fully leverage one’s opportunities, there are plenty of people who have managed to experience a substantial degree of success despite being adult nontraditional students.

If you are uncertain about whether being an adult non traditional student could negatively impact your career, consider the following inspiring adult non-traditional students who managed to achieve great levels of success.

Shaquille O’Neal

Though he had initially left school to begin his legendarily successful career in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal returned to Louisiana State University in 2000 to complete his bachelor’s degree in business. Five years later, O’Neal earned a master’s degree in business education from the University of Phoenix.

Michael Jordan

Even after becoming one of the most high-scoring and revered athletes in the history of modern basketball, Michael Jordan never forgot about his goal to finish his education at the University of North Carolina. After securing his legacy as an NBA all-star, Michael Jordan returned to the University of North Carolina and earned his bachelor’s degree in geography.

Francis Crick

Though Francis Crick earned his undergraduate degree at the age of 21, WWII delayed his ambitions to receive a PhD until he was 38 years old. Despite having had to delay the completion of his education for 17 years, Crick went on to share a Nobel Peace Prize just 8 years later for his discovery of DNA in 1962. In the end, Crick had managed to single-handedly revolutionize biological science and receive a Nobel Peace Prize in less than half of the time that had passed between receiving his undergraduate degree in 1937 and earning his PhD in 1954.

Julius Axelrod

Much like Francis Crick, Julius Axelrod had an unconventionally long period of time transpire between the year that he earned his undergraduate degree and the year that he earned his PhD. Unlike Crick, Axelrod did not have his PhD delayed due to military service. Axelrod had opted to accept an employment opportunity that was presented to him after earning his bachelor’s.

Between earning his undergraduate degree in 1933 and returning to school to earn his PhD 22 years later, Axelrod had managed to collect a fair number of monumental scientific credit to his name. Because of his extensive research on chemical compounds and neurotransmitters, Axelrod is credited as a invaluable contributor to the development of ibuprofen, acetaminophen, the scientific understanding of caffeine’s effects and the discovery of the neurotransmitter reuptake process. For his historic contributions to the field of neuroscience, Axelrod was recognized with a shared Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 at age 58.

Ultimately, the potential that nontraditional students have to succeed largely depends upon the extent to which they’re willing to take initiative in the pursuit of their goals, as you can see from the examples set by these 4 inspiring people.

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