John Case hasn't been inside a classroom in almost forty years.
"A lots changed," Case said. "When I was in school before we didn't have the Internet, e-mail or online classes."
But, when Case lost his job at Wausau Paper last year, he said he had no choice but to go back to school.
"I have been using my body, physical labor for so long..it's time to use my mind," Case explained.
Case isn't the only one who thinks like that. At NorthCentral Technical College officials say the average student age is 33. Many have been out of the classroom for years, and school leaders say they're working to help them adjust.
"We offer a lot of new courses, specifically computer courses to help people get up to speed with the learning environment, technology and all the changes," Laurie Borowicz, Vice President of Student Services at NTC said.
So why the sudden increase in adult students? School officials say it's because of a competitive job market.
"The word has been getting out that in order to have good career prospects you're going to need something beyond high school," Jim Rosenberg, Adult Student Initiative Coordinator at UW-Marathon County said.
Leaders at UWMC say non-traditional students make up 30% of the schools enrollment. That's up from a decade ago.
"People are seeing it as an option to make themselves more marketable," Rosenberg explained.
Beth Murkowski is one of those students. She returned to school after her business failed.
"It will pay off, we'll be able to do the things we want to when I'm done," Murskowski explained.
And school leaders say they'll see more adults coming through the classrooms as the economy continues to change.
For more information about adult student programs at NorthCentral Technical College click here: