It's become a growing trend among day-time workers, stay-at-home mothers, even laid off employees. An increasing number of Americans are dusting off their backpacks and heading back to school.
If you're among this not-so-new breed of learners who have made the decision to get back to the classroom, you may be excited about this unique opportunity to increase your knowledge, skills, and prospects for the future. You also might be a little anxious about what's ahead. Here are some helpful lessons on how you can maximize your success at school:
- Find the right school. Try to find a school that's convenient for you, has a good reputation, and offers the classes or degree programs you need. It's also important to find an affordable option, since college tuition can be very expensive. You will also want to see where the classes are offered, as some larger colleges and universities offer online courses or have satellite schools in your community.
- Look for financial support. If you've been out of school for awhile, you may be shocked at the high cost of education today. You do, however, have resources available to you, including scholarships and financial aid. If you're going to school while you're employed, see if your company offers tuition reimbursement.
- Start slowly. If you enroll in a degree or certificate program, you may have a lot of courses to take. However, jumping right in to a multi-course schedule may not be ideal, especially if you have to juggle family life and work. Start out slowly by taking a course or two and then build up as you become more experienced and work out your study schedule.
- Brush up on your technology. Classrooms have changed considerably over the past few decades. Make sure you're familiar with the school's technology and have a laptop or tablet that allows you to take advantage of all the resources your school offers. If you're planning to take an online class, it's critical that you be tech-savvy.
- Set aside time for schoolwork. If you have a job and a family, you'll be faced with the challenge of balancing all your responsibilities. One of the best ways to manage school work is to set aside time in the day that's devoted solely to homework and studying. For example, you may want to do your homework and studying while your children are at school or during your lunch break at work.
- Get your zzzzzzzzzzs. It's always important to get a good night's sleep, but if you're going back to school, it's critical to your success. Remember you're not a kid any more, so those all-nighters you may have pulled in your younger years are not as easy when you're an older adult.
- Find a study buddy. If you have to miss a class or work with a partner on an assignment, it's helpful to know someone in your class. Take the time to introduce yourself to a fellow student, even if it's a younger student. You may be surprised by how receptive younger students are to making older, wiser friends.
- Seek extra help. It may take some time to get acclimated to studying and taking tests. That's why it's important to seek out help as soon as you need it. If your professors have office hours, stop in to get extra help and to get to know them.
The most important thing you can do is to R-E-L-A-X and find the joy in learning. Though the journey back to school may make your day-to-day life more complicated, you're likely to end up with better skills, better pay, and a better life. Who couldn't find the joy in that?