Returning to school as an adult can be a very scary and intimidating thought for most individuals. It’s important to remember that it is far from uncommon, though. Many adults who have already spent some time in the workforce are now returning to school to continue or earn a new degree that will help them advance in their career. Going back to school allows you to acquire new skills, it can help you build your network, and it could give you opportunities that perhaps you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
In today’s day and age, it is easier than ever to find a school and a program that fits your needs. A number of schools are offering online or hybrid programs for working professionals, making it easier and more convenient for busy people to earn degrees.
If you are thinking of going back to school, take a look at our list of tips to help make your transition an easier one:
1. Choose a school that fits your needs
It’s really important to first decide what it is that you need in order to be successful, and then find a school that fits those needs. If you know that you have a busy schedule, perhaps a school that offers hybrid or online programs might be a better fit for you. On the flip side, if your schedule allows it and you know that you learn better in person, then choose a program that allows you to attend class on campus. Some schools structure their programs specifically for continuing education students. They offer classes in the evenings, so individuals can attend class after work. Moreover, it’s also important to find a program that you can dedicate yourself to. Some programs are longer than others, but you have more flexibility with them. Others allow you to get your degree faster, but you have to dedicate more time to studying.
2. Have a clear goal in mind
Having a clear goal in mind and identifying what you want to get out of your program is really beneficial. Knowing what you are working toward will help you save time, money, and stress. For traditional students, it’s easier to switch degrees as they have more flexibility and time. However, when you are a continuing education student, it is not as easy to switch your degree or field of study because you may lack time and flexibility. It will be advantageous if you know what you want to study before enrolling. If you don’t have a lot of experience, though, it is hard to know exactly what you want to do. One way to find out what you want to study is to research and shadow someone in the field that you think you might be interested in. You will be able to see what they do and you’ll get a better idea if it’s the right field for you.
3. Plan ahead
Prior to starting school, it’s really good to plan out your schedule ahead of time, and figure out how you plan on fitting in school. Aside from attending classes, you should also keep in mind that you will have to dedicate a good portion of time to doing homework and studying. If you have other life priorities, figuring out how you will fit those in prior to starting your program will be really helpful. You will then be able to start classes with a clean slate and you won’t have to worry or stress about how you will accommodate your other life priorities.
4. Do research on financial aid
Don’t let tuition hold you back from enrolling, especially if it is something you really want for yourself. Think about the long-term return on investment. There are many resources out there to help you pay for school, including scholarships, financial aid, and loans. You just have to do your research ahead of time. Reaching out to a few schools and asking them about all of their options will also be super helpful.
5. Find a support system
Being successful in school requires a lot of dedication and free time. Prior to starting, find a support group will help you stay on track, whether that is family, friends, a mentor, or your school counselor. Having someone hold you accountable and encourage you every step of the way will be really helpful. It will make your journey of attending school less stressful.
6. Take advantage of all of the resources on campus
Taking advantage of all of the resources on campus will help you succeed and keep you on track to achieve your goals. The majority of resources on campus are free. There is tutoring, office hours, study groups, and career counseling services.
Every professor designates a few hours a week to office hours. You are free to see them during office hours to get help on any assignments you may be struggling with. Tutoring is also available if you need help on a more consistent basis. If you are struggling with your career path or your classes, you can also get some guidance through career counseling services. You can talk to a counselor and they can help guide you through any obstacles, school related or personal, that you may have.
7. Use your life experience to your advantage
Even though going back to school as an adult can be scary, keeping a positive attitude about the situation will help make the transition easier. Oftentimes, adults who go back to school have a lot more experience under their belt than traditional students. They could use this experience to their advantage and bring it to the classroom.
8. Maintain a positive attitude
Mindset is everything. Even though every experience brings about change, and sometimes that change can cause a lot of adversity, at the end of the day, it’s all about mindset. It’s not so much about what happens, but rather how you choose to view situations. At first, it may be difficult to get adjusted going back to school again, but after some time, you will get used to it. Also, keeping your goals in the back of your mind will help you a lot. Always remember why you are there and why you chose this path in the first place.