5 Things Adults Must Know Before Going Back to College

While the value of education doesn’t change at any age, there are certain considerations that must be taken into account before furthering your education as an adult. As a non-traditional student, you will be tasked with balancing your education along with the responsibilities you hold as an adult. Whether this is your first time pursuing higher education after high school, or your desire to pursue a degree in a different field, there are five things that every adult student needs to assess in order to be successful.

1. Follow Your Passion

One of the primary reasons why adults go back to school in the first place is to get a better education that will open up new opportunities for a better job or a career change. Since most of us are bound to change careers multiple times throughout our professional lives, getting additional education could be what you need to move your career in a desirable direction.

If you find yourself in a dead end job that offers no potential for mobility or transitioning into something you do like, then it’s time to follow your passion. Make sure you have clear-cut goals for your career to begin determining which program or major is best for you. Once you have those in order, do your homework and contact academic advisors of the program or major to learn more about the program, what options are available for adult students and any other issues or concerns you may have.

2. Be Realistic About What You Can Handle

Simply put, don’t overload yourself when returning to school as an adult. As mentioned before, it’s likely that you’ll have other major responsibilities while pursuing your degree such as raising a family, taking care of elderly parents, and a job. All of these possibilities are extremely demanding, meaning that you have to spread your commitment to each component evenly.

If you’ve been out of school for a while, realize that it will take you some time to adjust the demands of getting an education. In order to avoid being overwhelmed from the get go, ease back into school by signing up for a course or two that does not require a lot of your time before you take on a full course load. This will help you adjust the impact that school will have on your work and personal life.

In addition, don’t give up on your pursuits if you have trouble adjusting at first, say getting a bad grade on a test or a project. Voice your concerns about reentering school to your professors from the get go to establish a relationship and get the help you need to get back into the swing of things.

3. Time Management and Organization

Regardless of age, all college students, at one point or another, underestimate the amount of time meeting educational requirements takes. But the more you have to juggle as a non-traditional student, the more effort you’re going to have to allocate in order to stay organized and manage your time properly. Manage your time by maintaining a calendar that reflects all of your commitments, along with having a designated spot to do work in order to avoid the distractions associated with other aspects of your life.

As you gradually increase your course load, be honest with yourself when you can’t handle any more than you’ve already got on your plate. Even though you might want to try and do it all, it shouldn’t come at the expense of your other commitments. In the long run, you’re better off not rushing through school and taking your time to ensure your success.

4. Scope of Resources

The financial cost of getting an education can be a burden for many people, regardless of age. If you don’t have money saved up to cover your educational expenses, then you need to determine what options are available to you as an adult student, particularly if this is your first time in college. For those who plan to work while enrolled in school, you may have to align your course load with your monthly budget to ensure you’re staying within your own means.

Thankfully, there are scholarships in place through a wide variety of universities and corporations that are designed for returning students. You may also be eligible for government aid, and there is always the option of applying for a private loan. Depending on your current line of work, some companies pay for their employees to go back to school.

5. Age is Just a Number

It may be daunting for some to go back to school as an adult, due to perceived stigmas of classmates who are younger than you. Rather than being intimidated, just remember that being an older student brings a different perspective to the learning experience for all involved. In fact, going back to school, as an adult is more common than you think.

However, it’s likely that you will have to update your computer skills before beginning classes. Familiarizing yourself with the different types of technology that college classrooms, whether in person or online, use will help mitigate some of the initial anxiety of returning to school. Check with your professors before the semester starts to determine what skills you need to brush up on in order to be successful in the course.

Contact FNU!

It’s never too late to continue your education. If you’re ready to move forward and need advice as to where you should begin, contact FNU’s admissions advisors to find out more about all of the options available to you!



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Jedeikin , J. (2012, September 21). 5 questions to ask before going back to school. Retrieved from 5 questions to ask before going back to school
Patrick, M. (2013). Things adults should consider before going back to college. Retrieved from http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com/articles/things-to-consider-before-going-back-to-college_12905.aspx
Special considerations and factors for adults returning to college. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.college- connecting.com/blog/special-considerations-and-factors-for-adults-returning-to-college/