The NCAA’s annual March basketball tournament brings talk of unlikely stories—Cinderella teams, inspiring individuals, people who used a bit of luck, a lot of hard work, and several unlikely comebacks to get to where they are now.
On the scholastic side of college, stories like this are being written every day. Students who take an extended time off school during their push to a degree due to illness, personal matters, a desire to focus on careers, or just a natural need for a break are constantly returning to the classroom to finish what they started.
And similar to how the basketball teams of spring can follow a game plan to success, students can also follow a formula to not only return to the classroom, but succeed while there.
Before you get back into the classroom, it’s important that you’re honest with yourself—why are you going back, how will you get it done, and do you even have the time or resources. While this step may yield the least physical results, taking the time to slow down and truly think yourself, talk to your loved ones, and clear your mind will end up being the foundation for your daily school life, keeping you motivated and providing answers to any mid-studying crises of “why am I even back in school?”
The best first step to take when returning to anything is to see where you stand in terms of how much progress you already have under your belt. When it comes to returning school, check in with an advisor to see how many units are still “alive” in your path to a degree, and leave no stone unturned as units from other schools, other majors, and even other life experience may contribute towards credits.
After you’ve mapped out your next few years, all that’s left to do is, well, the work. But fear not, schools these days have several built-in pressure relievers that every student, not just those returning from a hiatus, should take advantage of. Low-pressure refresher courses, for example can help ease students back into subjects, while part-time or night classes can ease time constraints. On the homefront, talk to family about your impending study sessions and set up an area meant exclusively for your studies. Be realistic, but be relentless and learn something new every day.
Like many of life’s biggest challenges, returning to school is a long and hard road. Pace, collectedness, and efficiency will all become keys in one day reaching the goals you set today, but so will the support system you develop along the way. Check in with counselors like the specialists here at ACI, as well as those at your school, to vent any of your financial or stress concerns. For veterans, veteran specialists can be a huge help in helping you instill structure in a muddled routine and ultimately, taking care of yourself and maintaining your relationships will be the keys to long-term success.
Photo credit: Daniel Hoyos / http://sundial.csun.edu/2013/02/mens-basketball-second-half-comeback-powers-matadors-over-irvine/