Whether you got an undergraduate degree years ago and you’re going back to school as part of a career change or attending college, going back in your 30s, 40s, 50s or even later can be both daunting and rewarding. You may initially feel as though you don’t belong, but the truth is that with some life experience under your belt, you can bring a great deal of perspective and motivation to your education that you would not have had right out of high school. The tips below can help you succeed.
Have a Plan for Payment
The cost of a college education is off-putting for many people. Keep in mind that you do not have to come up with that tuition money out of your own pocket. This is why federal student aid exists along with grants, scholarships and private student loans. As an older student with a credit record, you may be able to get an excellent interest rate on a private loan. You should also find out whether your employer will contribute toward your tuition in any way. If finances are the main worry preventing you from going back to school, you should definitely take the leap. It is possible to get the money that you need from a variety of different places.
You’re not trying to prove anything to anybody, so take it easy to start with. In your first semester, enroll in classes that you feel confident you will do well in and enjoy. If you are a student returning decades later to finish a degree you previously started, reflect on all that you personally accomplished during that gap. You might even want to start by just taking one class to get your feet wet again in the world of being a student. Some colleges will allow you to take a few classes without going through the formal admissions process that you can still get credit for after you are officially admitted later.
Ask For Help
First, take advantage of every resource that your school offers. Talk to your advisor. Visit your professor during office hours. Go to the career center. Make sure you understand procedures and deadlines. Understand when you can add and drop classes. Do not hesitate to ask for help or clarification on any issues that you have. For example, your resources may have smart tips on essay composing that can save you time, energy, and a potential bad grade by simply asking for help instead of being too intimidated to reach out.
On top of this, you should ask for help from people in your personal life as well. If you have a family, chances are that everyone is going to have to make some sacrifices for the next few years. Your spouse might have to take on more domestic chores. If you have older children, they can pitch in as well. Your family will also need to respect your boundaries around study time.
Draw on Your Expertise
It can be intimidating to be years or decades older than most of your classmates but think of this as a strength. You’re bound to be able to bring a perspective that they don’t have, and chances are, your professor will appreciate your contributions in the classroom. In addition, you probably already have some valuable skills that your classmates are struggling with, such as organization and time management.