Going Back to School

Deciding to return to college after being out of school for a long time is a bold decision. The decision is difficult enough, but actually starting school again can be a real shock to the system. We would all love to experience Rodney Dangerfield’s triumphant return to academia in Back to School where everything came so easy. However, in the real world, students making a return to college have legitimate concerns that make this transition truly challenging. If you have made the first step and registered for classes, then you are ready to start thinking about how you can make this a success.

For students outside the "normal" college student demographics (ages 18-22 and living on campus), going back to school involves serious adjustments. Chances are that you are also working and facing more adult-like situations (having children, paying bills, etc.). Juggling your life and classes will be difficult, but not impossible. It all starts with strong organizational skills. Regardless of whether you are going part-time or full-time, you will have to find time outside of your class schedule to do your school work. Make sure you can set aside hours on nights and weekends to attend to your studies. It is going to be challenging enough to make all your classes, let alone put in the time necessary to complete your assignments.

You might have a hectic household where you have to worry about your kids and the running of the house. Your best bet is to do your work somewhere else. Go to the library for a couple hours and you will see how much more work you can get done in a shorter amount of time when you eliminate the distractions you find at home. Another great time to get work done is early in the morning before the hustle and bustle begins. Maybe you have to get up an hour earlier, but if you can work without distractions, you are setting yourself up for success.

Keep your ultimate goal in mind whenever things seem to be spiraling downward. If you are returning to school to finish your degree, remind yourself how much this will help you professionally. If you are simply taking a couple courses for "the fun of it," make sure that you are truly getting the most out of these classes. Remember, you’re paying for it so don’t shortchange yourself. Also, the people in your life will be supportive of you so don’t be shy about leaning on them when you are feeling like you made a big mistake. Keep your eyes on the prize and work hard to reach your goals.

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