Going back to school at any age is stressful. When you are what educators like to call a “mature adult,” however, you may find that earning a degree is extra challenging. This is especially true if you haven’t taken any classes in a long time or it’s been years since you stepped foot inside a classroom.
Whether you are returning because of your employer or you just want to better yourself, you know it can be tough. Below are some things you need to know as a mature adult that will make returning to school much easier.
- Determine how you are going to pay for your school classes. If you are returning to school and are a full-time employee, you may find that your employer will pick up part of the cost. Check into student loans and scholarships. As a single parent or senior, you may discover that you qualify for other types of funding that are not available to younger students.
- Realize that you won’t be the only mature adult student in class. It used to be that if you went back to school, you might see one or two adults sitting in a classroom, but that was about it. These students stuck out and it really showed. Today, you will probably see students that are not only your same age, but you will probably find some that are actually even older than you.
- Consider starting school part-time and see how it goes. If you have been out of school for many years, you may find it is better to dip your toe in the water and wade into it slowly, instead of jumping right on in. Try one or two classes to see how hard the workload is going to be for you. This will not only keep you from becoming overwhelmed, but will also give you a chance to slowly relearn the study habits that you need to succeed.
- Try an online class. Many colleges now offer students a chance to take classes online. Keep in mind that since you are not required to show up in person for classes every week that you must budget your time efficiently to stay on track. If you tend to procrastinate on assignments or are often disorganized, you may find that you do better to actually attend classes on campus since the classroom structure may help you stay more focused and organized.
- Join a study group. Check boards around campus and talk to classmates to see if there is a study group that you might feel comfortable in. Although there is a chance that you may be the oldest student in the group, there is also a good chance that you won’t be. You won’t know, if you don’t ask around.
- Don’t give up. Almost all mature adults question whether going back to school was such a good idea or not. Remind yourself why you wanted to go back to school in the first place. Promise yourself that you will stick it out through the semester and then you can re-evaluate. You will be glad you did.
Jane Kendrick writes for several educational blogs. You can find information about the Highest Paying Master’s Degrees online.