Going back to college is something adults consider at some point during their career but several wimp out before they fully investigate it. This is understandable, college is expensive, can be scary, and who knows when the last time you used algebra was.
All of these thoughts are completely understandable but getting past that anxiety is half the battle. Figuring out how to get back in the swing of things may just sway you to take the next step onto campus.
We have the best tips to get you readjusted to being a student again. Keep reading for more information!
1. Easy Does It
Ambition is part of what is driving you back to school and that is a great quality to have. However, you should be realistic about your own expectations.
The worst thing you can do to yourself is register as a full-time student during your very first semester back in school. Doing this could set you up for a lot of stress and possibly result in failure.
Some loans may require you to schedule full-time hours--avoid those for now. Instead, opt for financial aid that will allow for part-time enrollment. The first semester or two back will be tough enough without the added stress of a full-time class schedule.
2. Learn Time Management and Stick to it
As a professional, it's likely you have developed some sense of time management. You've learned to balance your work, family, and social lives almost flawlessly.
When college comes into the picture, it is another major faction of your life. Before starting the semester, pay close attention to how each day unfolds. If you have a long commute on a train or bus, consider how that time can be used.
When kids are at practice, consider how much time you would have toward reading a chapter, completing a quiz, or outlining a paper. It may feel like you are squeezing a lot more projects into a day--and you are--but the goal is a degree!
With this said, know where WiFi hotspots are. Some areas don't have many and, in that case, consider buying your own. Having your own hotspot will allow you to work any and everywhere which keeps you on top of assignments.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Burnouts happen among many adult college students that balance careers and families. Now, more than ever, you will need to take care of yourself.
You might not have the time or ability to take one full day per week but consider taking one day per month that you can relax and not work (meaning actually have fun.)
Sometimes an entire day isn't feasible, schedule a gym session a few times per week. Or, a hot bath, manicure/pedicure, haircut, or a meal with friends. It is good for your mental health and you'll be invigorated upon returning to your studies.
4. Get Involved on Campus
Colleges and universities have professional organizations, intramural sports, student government, and numerous other activities for a reason.
There is no age limit on these.
As an adult student, you are absolutely free to participate in them as your schedule allows. Actually, you'd be missing part of the college experience if you didn't!
Not only are these activities fun, but they also serve as a great networking opportunity to meet other people in your field. You might not be interested in the activities offered, but just being involved in the classroom with your peers will help grow that connection.
5. Learn to Say No
As important as getting involved on campus is, learning to say "no" is also important. You may have to turn down a boys' night out, brunch with the girls, or a family function.
Just remember, this isn't a 'forever' situation, just for now. The sacrifice is only temporary and keeping your priorities straight will let you finish with your degree sooner.
6. Treat School as a Job
Typically, at work, when there is a question, you go to your superior. You check and re-check emails, memos, and presentations. You strive to be on-time and not miss work for silly reasons.
When it comes to school, treat it the same as your job. Develop a relationship with your "boss," meaning your professor. Ask questions when you don't understand or meet with him during office hours if necessary.
Afford yourself plenty of time to get to class and show up prepared. Treating your classwork as a professional project will reflect well on you and resonate with your professors.
7. Low-Pressure, Low-Cost Course Opportunities
One of the worst things about going back to college is sitting in courses that move too fast or that you don't understand. Taking advantage of remedial coursework is smart, but there are other opportunities available.
One such opportunity is online coursework that will transfer to your chosen university. Opting for several online courses will refresh your brain for what is to come at the university and it allows you to really learn the material by working at your own pace.
It is far less expensive than possibly repeating courses you don't understand well or having to sit through remedial classes that don't count toward your degree.
8. Dive In
The last tip to readjust to going back to school is this: Dive in!
Register for your courses, speak with administrators and crack those books open. Just like everything else in life, you won't see where or how it fits in until you actually start.
It's okay to be nervous or scared but those feelings will fall away once you become accustomed to your new schedule.
Going Back to College: Final Thoughts
You probably have your own cheering section when it comes to this part of your life. Your children, spouse, parents, and friends should be excited for and supportive of you.
With that said, you're not completing the degree for them, you're obtaining it to better yourself and your professional opportunities. It's a small step in the right direction and before you know it, you'll be walking across the stage for graduation!
If you'd like more insights on going back to college, financing this venture, or getting college credit for previous work experience, check out our blog!