There are a myriad of reasons adults return to school. Some are planning a career transition, others need new skills, degrees or certifications to advance and still others enroll in courses for enrichment and personal development. Whether it has been one year, ten years or even forty years since you were enrolled in college, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure you’ll be successful in your new endeavor.
1. Sign Up for a Not-for-Credit Class
If you're nervous about enrolling in a for-credit course and dealing with homework and assignments again after all these years, you may want to consider signing up for a non-college/not-for-credit course in your area as a trial. Many community colleges and local libraries offer classes that cover a variety of topics. If you haven’t been to school in awhile, taking one or more of these courses can help you re-familiarize yourself with homework and assignments, and help you gain confidence in your ability to succeed before you enroll in courses for credit.
2. Think about your learning style
As students, we all have our own type of learning style. Our learning style defines how we take in, understand and process information and it impacts our ability to problem-solve. Most of us have more than one learning style, but there is often one dominant method that we relate to more than the others. There are three main primary learning styles; Visual, Auditory, and Tactile.
3. Find the best program for you
As you are making the decision where to enroll, take the time to research what resources each institution offers non-traditional students. Do they offer part-time, full-time and/or online curriculums? Are you interested in a multi-year program or an accelerated, shorter program? Are there ways to earn college credit from prior learning or life experiences by taking an exam? Are there student centers, discussion forums or events to help bring non-traditional students together? Which program will best meet both your career goals and personal needs?
4. Network with Other Non-Traditional Students
Going back to school can be overwhelming for anyone at any age. Connect with other students in similar situations as yours; whether on campus or in your course’s online discussion boards or chat rooms.
5. Seek out resources
Online searches, MOOCs, the local library or even school websites often offer refreshers on proper writing format, research methods and more. Take the time to bring yourself up to date on the proper way to complete assignments so that you’ll receive the best grade possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if the material is not sinking in. Take advantage of every opportunity to grow, learn and develop. Attend help sessions with professors and other students, whether online or in person.
6. Approach school assignments as if they are work assignments
Those who have been in the workforce are familiar with deadlines and developing plans of action to meet them. Schedule enough time to research and complete the assignment so that you allow yourself ample opportunity to edit and rework if necessary.
7. Make your education a priority.
Taking courses as an adult can be difficult. We often have jobs, families, and other obligations all vying for our time. It’s important that you make coursework a priority and schedule time to study and complete assignments. Remind yourself why you are enrolled in courses; whether it’s for personal enrichment or to create new or better job opportunities - take the time necessary to apply yourself to your coursework!
Ed4Career has valuable resources built into our programs and curriculum to help ensure student success. We have skilled Educational Consultants on staff, and we offer an Online Student Center as well as Career Coaching. Visit us today to learn more about the Ed4Career difference!