Ten Tips for Going Back to College as an Adult
Whether you're going back to school to continue your education or starting fresh, it can be intimidating to go to college as an adult. You have more responsibilities and you have to learn to balance work, school and family. However, it is possible as long as you plan ahead and organize your time properly. Here are my ten tips for getting a college education as an adult.
Apply for Scholarships and Financial Aid
Don't just assume you won't qualify. You might have to do a lot of research but there are scholarships out there for every major and university. Start by applying for FAFSA or Free Application For Student Aid at fafsa.ed.gov.
See if your Current Employer Assists with Tuition
Many companies offer tuition reimbursement to help out their employees who are in college. You could also try searching for a new job in the field you plan to work in after graduation because they might offer to pay for your whole degree.
Consider getting an Associate's Degree before getting a Bachelor's Degree
Many students choose to get an associate's degree and start working before going back to school to finish their Bachelor's degree. An associate's degree is usually obtained at a Community College, which can be cheaper than a University, and if your grades are good enough, you may end up qualifying for scholarships when you go back to school.
Look into Non-Traditional Education
It might be too hard for some adults to participate in a traditional classroom setting. For these students, many colleges offer online classes and hybrid classes, which combine online classes and regular classes. This may make it easier for you to obtain your degree.
Work Part Time
If you have trouble working and going to school full time, and if your situation allows it, consider working part time while you're in college. If this isn't possible, consider going to college part time and taking summer classes to catch up.
Take Advantage of Programs your University Offers
Your college may offer amenities like free computer use, printers, gyms, tutors, or free childcare. They may even offer free services specifically for adult students like flexible classes, flexible payment options, or personal support. Many of these expenses add up fast so check with your university to see what options are available to you.
Know the Hidden Costs
You may have calculated the cost of tuition a few times now but have you thought of the other expenses you may have? Depending on the program, you might also have to buy a computer, a printer and ink, books, uniforms, food, and a certification exam after you graduate. These could add thousands of dollars to your tuition bill. Make sure you add these to your school budget.
Take Care of Yourself
College is hard for everyone, but it's especially hard for an adult with added responsibility. Take care of yourself mentally and physically by eating right, working out, and getting as much sleep as possible.
Plan Your Week Ahead of Time
At the beginning of the week: cook your meals, plan what your schedule is for each day and figure out the best time to study for the whole week. If you are prepared for each day, you will have a better chance of success!
You're Not Going to Be the Only Adult
I know you fear that you will be in a class full of teenagers, but there are many adult students just like yourself who are working on their degrees. You might find a study buddy who is in the same boat you are.
Going back to college as an adult isn't easy, and it will take many sacrifices. It may take you a little longer than others to finish college, but it will be worth it in the end when you have your degree.