Going back to school as an adult learner/student mom and dad is an exciting roller coaster journey. You need to prepare yourself well for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to maximize the outcome.
In this post, we are going to talk about the college hacks you need to know, to survive and thrive in your back-to-school journey.
After some serious contemplation, extensive research, and lengthy discussion with your spouse/partner and family, you finally made the decision to go back to school, despite being an adult and a parent.
You’ve decided that it will be the right time for you to finally pursue your dream of continuing your education, then you took action by preparing your documents and applying to your dream school.
Then the day, when you’re finally going to start your classes, arrives soon. You start to get nervous and have some doubts about whether you made the right decision and be able to survive or even thrive in your back-to-school journey.
Well, you know what, you definitely can survive, thrive, and do super well, and enjoy every moment of it. I’ll tell you how!!!
Follow these tips and you’ll be ok despite being older than your average classmates and having your plates full. So here is some best advice for adults going back to college:
1. Establish a Support System
If after all this time you’ve been wondering how to make going back to school at 30, 35, or beyond, as adults and student parents possible, the answer is yes, it’s possible. BUT…having a good support system is key.
You can’t do everything all by yourself, especially not something this massive and this huge of commitment such as going back to school. Before you take action and enroll, you need to establish a good support system.
Identify what kind of support you need the most and work to find the best solution.
A. Are you a working adult?
If you are a working adult returning to school, talk to your boss about your decision to go back to school and that you will be taking after-working hours or weekend classes. You might even need to take several months or one year of unpaid leaves, for example.
Discuss everything, and convince them that even though your personal life will have drastic changes, it will not affect your work.
Negotiate and ask for a specific dispensation/exemption or any kind of special arrangement they could give you, throughout your study period.
Arrange the workflow with your team. Will someone be going to cover for your work or be assigned to be your representative in meetings and able to make decisions on your behalf in your absence?
The clearer the arrangements the easier it will be for you when it comes to juggling work and school.
B. Are you a mom or dad wanting to go back to school?
Then you need to make arrangements for who’s going to take care of your kids while you are studying.
Will your spouse or partner be able to cover everything? Do you need extra help from your parents? From your in-laws? Or perhaps you need to prepare and allocate an extra budget to pay for nanny or daycare centers?
Maybe your parents could come and stay with you for the length of your study to help take care of your kids? Or is that newly opened daycare center near the campus a good option to try on? And so on.
Do you have both work and family to take care of? then you need to make sure both responsibilities are very well taken care of and make arrangements accordingly for the duration of your study. Negotiate for paid leave instead of unpaid leave and delegate more work to your team.
Whatever they are, the decisions you make and the actions you take, you need to be sure that they will help you establish a good support system throughout your study period so that you could focus on your study without worrying too much about your other responsibilities such as your work and your family.
Most importantly, how are you going to finance your study? Do you need to take unpaid leave or even resign from your job to focus on your study? If you do need to resign or take unpaid leaves from your job, think about how it will affect your family’s finances.
Will you have enough funding to cover all the expenses related to your study without affecting your family? Is your spouse/partner’s income will be enough to cover the family’s expenses for the duration of your study until you finish and get a new job?
Make sure you calculate everything in advance. The less you need to worry about your financial situation, the more focus you will be on your study, and will have a better chance to thrive.
If you want to know what kind of expenses you might have to prepare throughout your study, starting from your preparation phase all the way to the finish, you can check them here.
2. Attend the Campus Orientation
The campus orientation might not be mandatory in many colleges but try to attend them and think of it as your first official act as a college student.
Besides, attending campus orientation will be beneficial for you. How long has it been since the last time you attended a school and be a student? If your answer is more than five years, then I strongly advise you to attend this event.
It will show you the way around campus, and the facilities they have such as labs, sports facilities, health clinics, etc.
They will also show you resources provided by the campus such as the career counseling center, student center services, and so on.
It’s good to know what’s available before you needed them, thus, once you are in need of these services and facilities, you’ll know where to go.
Plus, you won’t get lost on your big campus and risk coming late to your classes since you saw all the possible routes and transportation modes allowed (bicycle, electric scooters, and likes of it).
Another advantage of attending campus orientation is to make friends before classes even start. Therefore, you’ll have someone to talk to or to ask for should you miss out on anything.
Make the most of the orientation, take mental notes or actual notes of what you’ll going to need and how to get there, or how to use the services to make your study easier.
If you need further help, check this workbook. You can compare the notes you made during your research about the facilities and services provided by the campus and compare them with what you finally see in person.
3. Participate and Volunteer in Campus Events and Organizations
I know you must be super busy. Between work, school, and taking care of your family, you won’t even have time to sit down and catch your breath.
But try your best to squeeze some time in your already super hectic schedule to participate or volunteer in some campus events and organizations.
Because college can offer you more than just classroom education. You could gain a different kind of knowledge and skills from actively participating in campus events and joining an organization, as well as networking with the people you met.
It’s an experience that will enrich your back to school as an adult journey. But don’t spread yourself too thin. After all, your priorities should be your studies and your family/work.
Be selective with what you choose to involve with. Make sure that the events or organizations you joined aligned with your future goals, allowing you to learn some new skills as well as hone the ones you already have, enabling you to build some fruitful networks, and allowing you to have time for your other responsibilities and interests.
Most importantly, it should be something you enjoy doing. Come and visit as many activities as possible in the beginning before selecting which ones are the right fit for you.
4. Organized Your Time Wisely
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as an adult returning to school is organizing your time. When you have to juggle many things at the same time, it feels like 24 hours per day is not enough.
Therefore, time organization skill is a must. If you think you were good at organizing your time and priorities, your back-to-school journey will test that skill to the max. If you were terrible at time organization before, this experience will certainly hone your skills in that area.
So be prepared. Get yourself a planner or scheduler, a paper or a digital one, whatever works best for you. Write down your to-do list, every day or every week. Make notes and highlight important things.
Don’t forget to set yourself a deadline for every task and assignment you need to finish. YOUR own deadlines, not the deadline given to you. Ideally, your deadlines are supposed to be a few days earlier than the original ones.
Thus, you’ll give yourself some extra times to spare in case things go wrong and you have to re-do some of your work, or something unexpected happen such as your child getting sick or your in-laws coming to visit, for example.
You might miss a couple of days of work, but the time you spare for an emergency situation will still allow you to catch up with your work and finish them before the actual deadlines.
But you have to be disciplined by treating the deadlines you set for yourself as the ACTUAL deadline and not postponing doing your work because you know you still have time before the actual deadlines.
5. Challenge Yourself
Surely, you have your own goals and dreams to achieve by going back to school as an adult /student mom or dad, but whatever that is, in the end, making this hard decision means you want to upgrade yourself.
Therefore, maximize this opportunity by constantly challenging yourself. Get out of your comfort zone, you’ve already done it anyway by taking the big leap of faith and jumping. The next ones should be easier.
Identify the type of skills you want to improve and work on them. Do you want to practice your public speaking skills? be more active in the classroom discussion and volunteer more often to be your group’s representative to deliver the presentation of your projects.
Take more responsibility and lead in group work if you want to sharpen your leadership skills. Join an organization that will make your other skills shines and so on.
The point is, to keep challenging yourself, test your limit, and keep pushing yourself forward. You’ll be surprised to know what you are capable of achieving, despite your unique circumstances as a non-traditional student.
6. Sit in The Front of The Class
One thing we need to consider regarding how to study as an older student is our physical condition. Although it’s highly doubted that older students like you might need hearing aids, some of us may need glasses already.
Even if we still have perfect vision and hearing, sitting in front of the class will be beneficial since it allowed us to see and hear better.
It will help us to concentrate more since we don’t have to crane our necks back and forth throughout the lessons to see what’s written on the board or screen because someone sitting in front of us blocking our views.
We can also hear better and thus, are able to focus more. The more focused we are, the easier it is for us to absorb the lessons.
According to this study, the students sitting in front of the classroom have better grades and attendance levels than the ones sitting in the back. So, if you want to have a better chance of concentrating more during your lessons and having good grades as a result, you need to sit in front of the class.
Use this printable workbook to record your Back to School Research. Don’t make all that Campus Visits, Virtual Tours, Webinars, and Q&A with the school’s admission personnel go to waste !! Write down the information you have collected in this workbook.
Study them later carefully to help you weigh in the pros and cons of each university and decide the best place for you to continue your study.
7. Take Advantage of Career Counselling Services
Almost every college offers them but not many students utilize them. According to a Gallup Pool college graduates who visit their college career centers are more likely to obtain full-time jobs than their peers who do not use this service (67 percent versus 59 percent).
They are also more likely to find their jobs more fulfilling. The students who had good experiences with the career counseling center were also more likely to have a good job waiting for them upon graduation.
So, if you decided to go back to school because you want to change your career, then don’t overlook this service. Booked consultations with them, tell them your educational and career background, your current studies program, and what kind of changes you wish to make in terms of your career upon graduation.
Request their assistance in adjusting your CV, making a cover letter, preparing for the interviews, and so on. Ask for their advice on the current job markets, trends, and so on.
Also, ask for information on how the prospect of this new industry you’re interested in and how to prepare yourself better, to give yourself a better chance to prosper.
Most likely, it’s been a while since the last time you search for jobs fresh out of school, many things have changed, and you need to make sure you are completely prepared.
Over to You…
Going back to school as adult learners, beyond 30, 40, and so on, and as a student mom or dad is totally possible, but still, there are some things you must do to survive and thrive in your back-to-school journey.
First, you need to establish a good support system. Then when you finally going to start your classes, don’t forget to attend campus orientation. Participate in campus events and organizations but manage your time wisely since your main goal is your studies.
Maximize your back-to-school journey by keep challenging yourself, you are there to upgrade yourself anyways, and sit in front of the class to concentrate better on your lessons. Then, take advantage of career counseling services so that you prepared yourself better for the job searching process.
There you go, all you need to survive and thrive on your back-to-school journey. Need some help in deciding whether going back to school is the right move for you? Take a look at my free guides here.
Pin this for later and share them on social media. Hopefully, we’ll help some adult students out there thriving and killing it in their amazing back-to-school journey!!!…thanks so much, and till next time.
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