Are you going back to school as an adult?
Odds are you are excited, apprehensive, and curious about what it will be like, and what you need to do to prepare. After all, you went to school as a kid, but your expectation is that it will be much different as an adult.
And you’re right – it’s a much different experience.
But the good news is that we’ve put together this post that’s focused on helpful tips for adults returning to school. So, you’ll know ahead of time the essentials of heading back to school for some adult education.
Sound interesting? Keep reading to find out more!
Who’s Going Back?
It might feel, at first, like going back to school when you aren’t in your teens or 20s isn’t all that common. But that’s actually not true.
There are roughly 35-40 million people just like you, who are non-traditional students. Non-traditional refers to people over 25, and they make up more than 40% of college students.
A big percentage of these students have some college credits but never finished. But even you did spend some time on a college campus in your youth, going back when you are older will still present unique challenges.
If you’ve been working a full-time or part-time job, it’s likely you’ve sorted out how to balance your job with the rest of your life.
Everyone’s situation is different, so whether it’s about finding time for leisure activities, or spending time with kids, or simply doing chores and housework, you’ve probably worked hard to carve out a schedule that works for you.
But when you throw part-time or full-time classes into the mix, it might mean some serious rearranging of your schedule.
But the good news is you are likely more skilled at time-management than you were right out of high school. So, with some adjustments, you’ll be able to sort out your work-life balance.
Let Your Family Help!
While we’re talking about juggling work and life, let’s also talk about how having a family can help your entry into school.
If you are married and have a supportive spouse, you can ask them to help you study for tests. And you’ll likely need to lean on them in the beginning for help outside of school with things like chores.
And if you have kids, you might suddenly have a built-in study group. Even if they aren’t studying the same things as you, if they are currently in school, you can set aside time for the family to all study together in the same room.
You’ll Feel A Little Lost
The anxiety that can come from going back to school isn’t just for kids. You should expect to feel a little nervous and unsteady when you first go back.
This might be intensified if you go back to a school that has a larger percentage of traditions (under 25) students.
There’s no faster way to feel out of place than to try to understand the slang and references of kids much younger than you! So, expect to feel a little lost.
The best thing to remember is that everyone’s story is different, and these kids who might all seem the same at first are actually dealing with their own issues.
It’s a tricky time for them too because the transition from high school to college can be very jarring and overwhelming. And the fact that you have more life experience might be something they’ll be drawn to, once they get to know you!
Your Experience Is Valuable
In classes, especially ones with labs, class discussions and group projects, you’ll likely be able to add value in ways you couldn’t when you were younger.
Your experience both in life and in the work sector will quickly, and quite often, be relevant in your classes. And you’ll be able to provide guidance, support, and information even as you are learning new things.
This knowledge should also help your confidence. People sometimes think of time away from formal education as a drawback, but in most cases, it’s actually an asset.
There’s a reason business schools tend to reject kids right out of college. They want them to go get a job and some life experience before they continue their learning!
Well, the same applies here. Your experience will color the way you approach and react to your learning in advantageous ways. You’ll likely have a better sense of how to thrive in classes than you realize.
Keep Your Eyes on The Prize
It’s important to have an end goal in mind with your studies. This is especially true in the early stages of returning to school when classes often are more generalized and don’t necessarily apply to your field.
Remember that each of these classes gets you one step closer to your eventual goal of graduating.
And keeping an eye on your goals will also help you choose what classes to take. Having a real focus on how you want to use your degree, later on, will inform the types of classes you choose to enroll in.
Look for classes that you think will help get you specific job skills you’re looking to gain. Or ones that you have but need honing.
Whether you are planning to go back to your current field or trying out a new one, you probably have a good sense of what types of skills you’re looking to improve on.
And there are great resources out there, regardless of if you are going back to school for accounting, teaching, or something as specific as ultrasound continuing education
If you are coming in with a pretty full schedule already, it might be difficult to dive in headfirst to a normal college class schedule.
So, the convenience of online degrees might also be a great choice. There are newer technology-based models of learning, like adaptive learning, that provide course materials more tailored to individuals.
And often online classes give you much more flexibility when it comes to when and where you do your learning.
Going Back to School
As you can see, going back to school as a non-traditional student can be a little scary at first, but hopefully this post has given you the confidence that you’ll need to quickly settle in.
And there are ways to keep thriving as you go further into your studies. For example, check out this blog on how blogging while going to classes can be valuable!