Get the Most Out of Going Back to School with These 5 Tips

Masters of adult education

Most people think completing college and getting a four year degree is a good way to advance their careers. The majority think their college expenses and tuition were worth it. At least 83% say this. There is plenty of evidence to back that idea up. Employees with at least a bachelor’s degree make more money than those who do not. In fact, people with degrees have a median income of $45,000. People who have attended, but did not finish, college make around $30,000. People with only a high school diploma only make around $28,000. This income data is from Pew Research report from 2012. Most college educated Millennials are employed full time. Nearly 90% had found a job as of 2013. One could argue that students learn the art of effective communications in college but the degree does not help.

  1. Look into your financial options. Whether you are going to college right after high school or if you are going back to school after a decent amount of time away, college is expensive either way. The good news is there may be financing options out there that you do not know about. Talk to the schools you are looking at. They have financial aid offices that may be able to give you ideas. Research options for adult education programs and grants and loans for students who return. Look for programs for, “non-traditional students.”
  2. Take an online class or two. Whether you are going back to school for a bachelors degree or a masters degree, it might be a good idea to take a class or two online before you jump into a full academic program. If you have been away from school for a while, it may take some time to get back into the swing of studying and exams. An online class may be a good way to dip your foot in the academic pool to get yourself ready to complete whatever academic program you want. Some people start with a course in effective communication, for instance, to get started.
  3. Manage your exam anxiety. Many students suffer from exam anxiety. This may be worse when you go back to school after some time away. There are some things you can do to make this easier. It may be tempting to cram all night and to scrimp on your sleep but resist that urge. You have a lot of demands on your time but sleep is not the place to squeeze more out of your day. Prepare a little every day. Be ready for the tests when they come and trust yourself. Take your time when you are taking an exam. Remember to breathe.
  4. Think about the work, life and school balancing act. When you go back to school for any subject after a period of time away, you will find yourself in a different part of your life than many of the students who are going to college right after high school. You have a job and a family when they may not. You need to cut yourself some slack and be good to yourself as you try to juggle everything you have going on. This is where the effective communication skills you are working on will help. Everyone in your life is going to assume that what they need from you is the most important thing you have going. Everyone who juggles a family, school and a job learns much better time management skills.
  5. Find other “non-traditional” students. You are not the only person who has decided to go back to school. Find other students who are in a similar position to you. They will understand what you are going through and what you are trying to accomplish. Their support will help you. Find these students and form a study group. It will help to talk, also they may have ideas about how to handle all of the responsibilities that come along with going back to school.

When you are an older student, you already have more effective communications skills than younger students. Take your time, enjoy your classes and you can enjoy the process. Going back to school can be a good experience.