But they’re not all exactly hitting the campus. Often, these seasoned, education-hungry adults are taking advantage of new-school education methods such as online classes and free extension programs which live-stream lectures from notable universities. And even when old-schoolers do return to campus classrooms, be it at a traditional or nontraditional college, the challenges they find themselves facing are worlds apart from the ones of 20, and even ten years ago.
The key to overcoming these challenges is, first and foremost, to know what you’re getting yourself into. Whether returning to school to perform better at a current job, for a chance at a better job, or simply to learn something new, first know these six things.
Which school fits best
With such a multitude of educational mediums out there, it’s important to end up in the school that fits best. Important questions to answer before settling on a school are what financial aid options are offered, how class schedules and class sizes are oriented, how programs relate to your degree, and how reputation and accreditations hold up to your standards.
What to study
As someone who’s spent some time in the “real world” already, you probably have a good idea of what you like doing and what you don’t. Pick a subject to study that builds upon the work you’ve enjoyed doing and most of all is something you’re good at. Depending on what you wish to study, you may choose to go a different route than you originally planned, like a technical school or private business-owned college which both offer curriculums geared toward continuing-education students or those with jobs and job experience.
You’ll feel the need to prove yourself
You’ll hear the question from family, friends, and coworkers: “why are you going back?” And no matter how you answer this question, every adult-learner will feel they have something to prove. That’s okay. But use this desire as fuel to work hard every day, and make sure to keep your eyes on the prize and learn as much as you possibly can.
You’ll need to refresh your “old school” ways
Sure, some learning techniques are timeless. But much of what will be needed for you to do well in school will require adapting to new ways of learning. Don’t resist these new-school learning advantages. Use online study guides, take your notes with technology when helpful, and participate in email threads and forums with classmates. Also, don’t be afraid to contribute your real-world knowledge to other students; professors and students alike will be interested.
Be prepared to sacrifice
Extra education is invaluable. But know you’ll have to make a few lifestyle changes before you get there. Be ready to cut back on your budget, spend less time socializing, and have to hire that babysitter every now and then. And not to mention, you’ll have some late nights spent studying. But again, focus on the prize and, come graduation day, your sacrifices will all be worth it.
You get as much out of it as you put in
Don’t forget that education is still about effort. Talk to your professor after class, meet with your student advisor often, and keep a “flow chart” that outlines your degree progress. Doing these extra little things is still an important part of success, even for those who are going back to school.
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