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Tips for Adult Students

Are you thinking about going back to school?

There are many reasons adults over age 25 return to school. You may be planning a career change or need new skills to move up in your career. You may have been enrolled in a program before you went to prison and want to finish.

There are a number of things to consider:

  • Identify what your reasons are for going to school.
  • Consider the pros and cons.
  • Be realistic about the time commitment and energy involved in taking classes.
  • Figure out how you will pay for tuition, books, and other expenses.
  • Do your homework about programs and schools to find the right fit.
  • Decide whether you want to go part time, full time, or take online classes.
  • Explore options to earn college credit from prior learning or by exam.
  • Think about if you want to enter a multi-year program, or take an accelerated, shorter program.

Returning to School

You may feel like you are in unknown territory and need some extra guidance. Learn about the application process and the steps you need to take to enroll. Some adult learners over age 25 need to earn their high school diploma before enrolling.

Adjusting to School

Adult learners face many challenges that younger students don't:

  • They worry that they don't have good study skills.
  • They think they don't have time for it.
  • They don't think they can afford to go to school because of other financial commitments.
  • They may be intimidated by the college environment and worried about feeling isolated.
  • They often have to juggle career, family, and school responsibilities.

How can you make the transition easier? Here are some tips:

  • Take advantage of lower-pressure learning opportunities, such as refresher classes, to get to know the academic environment.
  • Start on a part-time basis rather than jumping in full time.
  • Be a positive role model, respect diversity, and be assertive in the classroom. You will be interacting with younger students. You may have a different lifestyle, attitude, and way of learning than the traditional, fresh-out-of-high-school student.
  • Be prepared for homework. Have a private, quiet place at home to study. Start early and allow extra time to complete assignments. Get help if you need it.
  • Be realistic about what the college environment will be like.
  • Talk with your family about how going back to school will affect home life and changes that will occur.
  • Expect to feel some stress. Students of all ages do.

Staying in School

The first year of school can be the hardest. The tips below will help you stay committed to finishing school.

  • Go at your own pace to avoid being overwhelmed.
  • Seek out transitional counseling assistance and support groups. Many students leave the first year because of financial and adjustment problems.
  • Find a peer group to help you study, spend time with, and keep you on track.
  • Keep focused on your short and long-term goals.
  • Expect money to be tight while you are in school. Look for ways to cut back on expenses.
  • Create a school schedule well in advance to allow for family commitments. Get extra help with household chores.
  • Keep to a regular study schedule.
  • Learn to say "no" to activities and requests you don't have time for.
  • Take time for yourself and your family to relax and stay connected.
  • Involve yourself in campus activities.
  • Exercise, and take frequent breaks from the routine of work, home, and school.
  • Meet with your advisor or counselor regularly to help plan your class schedule so you complete your credential or degree on time and other guidance.
  • Don't get discouraged or give up. Take one semester at a time.

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