Tips for Going Back to School As an Adult

More so than traditional college students, adults heading back to school need to define their goals and make an appropriate plan. Read on for more in-depth tips when pursuing education as an adult.

Getting Educated as an Adult

Adults who go back to school face challenges that their younger classmates might not have to deal with, including career or family responsibilities. As you return, you can make the time spent in school a little easier by following a few simple rules, such as creating goals and getting help from friends and family members.

While it can be easy to worry about returning to school as an adult or non-traditional student, you won't be alone. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics stated that, from 2012-2023, enrollment for adults aged 25 is projected to rise at a rate of 20%.


You will probably undergo an adjustment period when returning to school. Try to stay as free of stress as possible, and remember that you have your own personal reasons for pursuing an education - stay true to your purpose and you'll probably do just fine.

Plan Your Finances

You can take a few simple steps to lessen the burden of financing your education. You might take advantage of any tuition reimbursement programs that your employer offers. Apply for scholarships, especially the scholarships that many schools offer specifically to non-traditional students. If you can, speak to a financial advisor who can help you plan your expenses, and make sure to use education tax breaks when it's time to prepare your taxes.

Understand Your Goals

Knowing exactly what goals you're trying to reach in your pursuit of a formal education often makes it easier to achieve these goals. For instance, you might want a career in computers, but you may not be sure which specialty you'd like to pursue. Speaking with a college counselor or even a department head could help clarify which education path makes most sense. Write down your goals, create a plan and be prepared to stick with it if you encounter any difficulties.

Involve Your Family

Once you begin school, you may find you have less time to devote to household tasks, such as cleaning or grocery shopping. You can make life easier by getting everyone in the family to pitch in and help. If you have to study with small children in the house, try to find a quiet activity for them or swap childcare services with another adult student.

Involve Your Employer

You might be looking for advice on how to coordinate your existing career with your studies. If so, communicate with your boss about your new status as a student. Whether you need time off, less duties or a different schedule, speaking with your employer will let him or her know that you're committed to your job as well as your studies.

Start Slowly

You'll most likely need time to learn how to be a student again. The act of learning requires a specific skill set, one that tends to be different from the skill set you use to perform a job. You'll also be balancing a new responsibility on top of your old ones, so you might want to take less than a full load of courses for the first semester to see how well you'll handle this new challenge.

Meet Your Classmates

Creating friendships with other students will help you form a support network. You will have a way of getting information about classes you may need to miss, and when test time rolls around you'll have other students with whom you can study.

Other Sources of Help

If you need help, don't be afraid to ask. Many schools offer counseling services to their students. As such, you can meet with a professional and discuss your concerns. Some schools also host organizations that specifically cater to non-traditional students.

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