Going back to school as an adult, your have a lot responsibilities and outside pressures than you would have had in your early twenties. You still can succeed as an adult college student, but you will need to be more intentional about the process. Go through these five steps to set yourself up for success.
1. Write Down Your Main Goals and Post Them Prominently
You’ll be a lot more likely to stick to your studies when things get rough if you remember why you went back to school. For example, you may write, “I want to earn my degree so I can get my dream job in marketing and be able to do work I enjoy to support my family.” Seeing this in print can provide motivation.
2. Get the Emotional Support of your Family and Friends
It’s tough to spend hours on classwork if the people around you don’t understand why you’re doing it. Talk with your family, pastor, close friends, and even your co-workers about your plans to go back to school and your excitement about earning a degree. Once they understand, they will probably be eager to support you.
3. Plan for the Financial Commitment
A primary fear of adult students is that they won’t be able to afford going back to school. You wouldn’t want to get halfway in and discover that you don’t have money to finish the degree. Therefore, list all the costs, including tuition, books, transportation, and childcare; and make a plan for where you will get that money. Options include savings, financial aid, and tuition assistance from your employer.
4. Schedule Your Time Efficiently
Your job and family shouldn’t have to suffer just because you’re in school. Use a calendar to schedule blocks of time to spend at work, with your family, at school, and doing schoolwork. This can help you identify windows of time available for studying, like your lunch break at work.
5. Seek the Support of Your Classmates
One of the perks of being in a program specifically tailored for adult learners is that your classmates are likely facing similar difficulties. Ask them about strategies they have found effective to help meet their educational goals. You can also organize study groups to help you get schoolwork done more quickly.
Your success as you return to school is largely in your hands. Your approach to your studies and attitude about your daily responsibilities will have a significant impact on your progress toward earning a degree. It won’t always be easy, but with perseverance, you can achieve your goals.