What You Need to Know When Going Back to School as an Adult

Working Adult College Students

It’s never too late to obtain a degree, but going back to school as an adult can be difficult. As an adult, you may have many other responsibilities that your (much younger) fellow students don’t have, such as a full-time job, career or parenting responsibilities. Even if you can devote yourself entirely to being a full-time student, you may still feel like a duck out of the water. Whether you’re jumping into a four-year degree program, or you think it might be a good idea to take some online classes. Here are three things you need to know when going back to school as an adult.

Talk to an Advisor before Registering or Enrolling

As an adult, your educational needs will most likely be strictly academic rather than both academic and social. While an incoming college first-year student might benefit from living on campus and staying at one school for all four years, your best option might be to take online classes at a community college before enrolling at a four-year institution. Speaking with a college admissions counselor may help.

Also, Collegewise counselors are passionate about “creating customized plans and setting deadlines to ensure that students complete their applications and essays thoughtfully, effectively, and early.” 

You May be Exempt from Some Classes Based on Experience

Adults have the benefit of work experience that most first-year college students do not possess. Another way college admissions counseling can help you is in determining if any of your applicable work experience might exempt you from having to take certain classes. The fewer classes you have to take, the sooner you can obtain your degree and the less that degree will cost you.

It’s Going to be a Big Change

Working adults who become college students must alter the lifestyles. How often do you need to take your work home? If often, then you may find it difficult to set aside time for research and homework after you arrive home from work. Although it may seem unmanageable to work a full-time job and attend college, you can manage both. With careful time management and dedicated preparation, you can do it. Think of the goal at the end to keep yourself in high spirits, and try to enjoy the shift in the atmosphere of the classroom versus the workplace.

Remember, receiving academic advising from an experienced higher education professional is critical to a first-time student’s success. While effective college admissions counseling isn’t the sexiest topic, it can make the difference between satisfying college experience and an unsatisfying one.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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