Going Back to College: Getting
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Make an Academic Plan.
Once you determine your educational goals and the school
you wish to attend, your next step is to make an academic
plan. Your advisor can help you decide which courses
to take, and whether you should take course prerequisites
or any refresher courses (for example, in English or
Math). This plan will serve as your academic guide and
timetable to keep you on course. You can review this
plan periodically to determine how it fits your lifestyle:
if it gives you enough time for work, family, and other
activities. To get maximum
benefit from your degree, plan
your career beforehand, not when you finish the
program. Be sure your academic plan has a determined
When you are ready to select classes for your first
semester, choose subjects in which you are already interested
and do well in. This will help ease your transition
and establish a study schedule. As you increase in confidence
and are more acclimated to college life, try the more
difficult or unfamiliar subjects. Many colleges offer tutoring, so be sure to take advantage of these
services if you need them. Additional study resources
can be found in the Academics section of this Web site.
Attend a Campus Orientation.
Many colleges offer student orientations or campus tour
before the start of the semester, and sometimes there
is an orientation especially for non-traditional students.
These orientations often include information about campus
resources, re-entry services, study skills, and stress
management tips. They also help familiarize you with
the campus and provide help with other important issues
you may need to address while continuing your education.
If you can't take a tour, try to familiarize yourself with the many resources
the college provides on campus, such as the career center, a math lab or writing center, and any free tutorial assistance.
Build a Strong Support System.
A major reason for not completing their degree for returning adults is not having a strong support system. Transitioning from workplace to student can be difficult and present obstacles, especially if you lack support from employer, family, or friends. These may include difficulty in understanding and getting financial aid, receiving counseling or career direction, the complexity of re-enrollment and transfer/credit issues, inflexible class scheduling, persistence, and poor study skills.
Persistence is one of the most common hurdles facing adults who return to school. Adult students generally commute, may be married, work full or part-time, and have children. Handling an academic workload while dealing with these realities can cause some to drop out. Others might begin a program of study, to find they have to put it on hold due to life events (i.e., health or other issues).
Having a strong support system can help adults facing these challenges. While ultimate responsibility rests with you, it's also up to you to reach out if needed. Involve family and friends in the excitement and importance of learning. Demonstrate to your employer how your goals will benefit the company as well as yourself. The more involved others are in your success, the more they will be on your team if you need them.
Reach out to those on campus as well. Ask your college or university if they have any resources for older students. Seek out social networks or groups, academic or professional, to share concerns.
Get to know your professors or instructors and take advantage of office hours to answer any questions or seek help if struggling with a subject.
Consider Combining Class Work with Part-Time
Combining classes with part-time employment can be a
challenge, but employers often provide assistance to
help you toward educational goals. Many offer cooperative education programs*, tuition
reimbursement, or paying assistantships or internships. As well as helping you with your tuition,
these programs can provide valuable work experience
Another option is federal or state work study (which can be included in your financial aid award.)
If you choose to participate, you will need to find
a position in your major with a qualified employer.
Your employer will then be reimbursed and the income
you earn will not be counted in determining the next year's
financial aid, a significant benefit.
Remember, you are going back to college because you
(like many other adult students) want to be there. Relax,
and enjoy your journey!
have questions? Please read the FAQ
(Going Back to College: Frequently Asked Questions).