Going back to college as an adult student can seem intimidating. You’ll be taking on the responsibility of attending classes and completing assignments while continuing your family, career and community commitments. From determining how you will afford the added expense to learning new technology, here are a few tips for overcoming challenges as an adult student.
Once you narrow down the program(s) you are interested in, schedule an appointment with financial aid staff. Before the meeting, create an account at www.studentaid.gov for a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID, review your loan record and come prepared with a list of questions. You may be eligible for aid such as the Federal Pell Grant (undergraduate only), federal loans (undergraduate only), and employer reimbursement or veteran’s benefits.
Inquire about the school’s payment plan options. While the upfront cost of additional education may be intimidating, consider the return on your investment. Will your expanded knowledge help you get a new job, promotion or increase in salary? Learn more about the ROI of additional education.
If you are serious about going back to college, you will need to reprioritize your time and commitments. Of course, family and work responsibilities will be high on your list. Now, your education also needs to be a priority.
Take a step back and look at what else vies for your time and energy. Are there places where you can cut back to make space for completing your coursework? Figure out when exactly you will be completing your assignments. Do you like to wake early, are you a night owl, what can you get done on your lunch hour?
Having a supportive community is also key. Who in your circle is available to help with child or pet care on nights you have classes? Even if your program is online, you’ll want to remain focused on your studies to get the most out of your program!
In the last year, have you worked from home? Have you used Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or another videoconferencing app? The answers to these questions are more likely to be yes than ever before.
As a society, we have learned to adapt to the changing demands in the workforce and because of that you are likely one step closer to overcoming some of the hurdles of going back to college as an adult. Enrolling in a program that offers online or videoconferenced classes can provide the same flexibility as working from home so enhancing your education is easier than ever.
Haven’t used this technology? Let your admissions counselor know. They can share what programs you will be using in your classes. Practice with family and friends before class begins. Try out muting your mic, typing out questions and joining a breakout room.
Once class begins, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your university may have support staff who can help you get acclimated to whatever technology needs you have.
So, you haven’t been in a classroom setting for several years? No worries! If you are pursuing a program specifically designed for adult students, many of your classmates will be in the same situation. Your work experience will likely be just as valuable in your new program as your high school or previous college classes. The metric that may better define how likely you are to succeed as an adult student is motivation!
However, if you are struggling in classes, find out what academic support is available through your university such as a writing center or tutoring. It’s a good idea to ask what type of academic support is available before enrolling.
At Bluffton University
We believe advanced education makes a difference in the lives of our graduates, in the management of their organizations and in the well-being of their communities. Degree completion and graduate classes are designed for working adults and are either held online or via Zoom. However, they remain taught by dedicated professors who want to see students grow personally and professionally.