Tips for Adults Going Back to School
by Deanna Morris-Stacey
Tips for Adults Going Back to School
Going back to school as an adult is a big decision full of challenges and rewards. You will need to find a program that is hospitable to adult learners that balances your new coursework with your current family and career obligations. With the right planning, continuing your education can enhance your personal and professional future, giving you broader options and more security.
Preparing Yourself for Going Back to School:
- Clarify your goals. Determine what you want to get out of returning to school. You may want to earn more money or start a whole new career. It is a big investment so keep track of whether you are getting what you paid for.
- Do your research if you are considering a career change. Research can help you assess whether a career change makes sense for you. Read about the jobs outlook and qualifications needed in your chosen field. According to the National Science Board, occupations in the fields of science and engineering are increasing, but women only account for 29% of the workforce in this area. Talk with people who are already working in similar positions to benefit from their experience.
- Select a school that is friendly to non-traditional students. With a rocky economy and people living longer, many schools are reaching out to an expanding market of adult learners and other non-traditional students. You may be able to find schools that offer flexible scheduling, daycare, credits for work experience, and other benefits that will be helpful to you.
- Start back gradually. You may prefer to register for a single workshop or take an online course before deciding to become a full-time student. It is a good way to test the waters and find the most affordable way to accomplish your goals.
- Brush up on your study habits. If you have been out of the classroom for a while, give yourself some time to adjust. Practice taking notes at a lecture or highlighting a chapter in a textbook.
- Budget your time and money. It can be challenging to finance your continuing education and balance your time between school, family, and work. Keep a calendar and monitor your priorities. Look into financial aid, grants, and ways to reduce your living expenses.
Making Preparations Along with Your Family for Returning to School:
- Involve your family in your decision. Your whole family will be affected, so discuss your decision with them. Listen to their concerns and feedback.
- Enlist your family’s support. You will need your family’s support to succeed, so work together as a team. Ask your children to take on additional chores and let your spouse know you appreciate their encouragement.
- Rejoice in setting a good example for your children. If you feel uncomfortable about spending time apart from your children, take heart in the fact that you’re setting a great example. You are demonstrating the value of getting a good education and working to achieve your goals.
Preparing at Your Workplace for Going Back to School:
- Plan a smooth transition if you are going back to school full time. If you decide to quit your job, give adequate notice, and depart on good terms. It is the right thing to do, and you may want to use your employer as a future reference.
- Decide what to tell your employer if you are returning to school part time. It is your decision whether to inform your employer about your coursework. If you think it will be viewed favorably, you may want to inform people at work and take advantage of any continuing education benefits your employer may offer.
Going back to school as an adult can enrich your life in many ways and open up new opportunities. With careful preparation and hard work, you can make a smooth transition back to the classroom and accomplish your life goals.