Many adults who did not attend college are making the decision to go back to school for a variety of reasons. Some might want to make more money, and see going back to college as a good way to achieve that goal, while others might just want a career change and need additional education in order to pursue the career of their dreams. Still, others may see it as a way to increase their demand in the job market.
However, making the decision to go back to college isn’t easy, and there are several challenges a more mature student might face in attending a university at an older age.
So to help you out, here are 10 tips to help you make the transition.
1. Visit the Campus
Many younger students pick a campus that they’ve been to before, or that an older sibling has attended, so they often have an idea of what the campus is like.
Older adults may have never visited the campus before, and do not know what to expect. If you are unfamiliar with your university’s campus, consider making a special college visit, to get a basic idea of the layout. Most websites also offer campus maps for additional help.
2. Use the Resources to Fit In
Obviously one of the biggest concerns older adults have is fitting into a campus of mostly teenagers and people in their early twenties.
See if your university has an office for adults going back to school. They can likely give you resources aimed at others like you, which will help you meet other adult students and fit in faster.
3. Catch Up In Technology
Many adults may feel like they aren’t up to date on modern types of technology.
Check with your university’s library for help on what types of computers and other forms of technology are used. The library often offers additional courses and helpful tips to get adjusted to new tools.
4. Meet New People
In addition to fitting in, building a relationship with peers and professors is important. Because most adult students live off campus and only come to campus for class, you may have to put in extra effort to develop such relationships.
Make a point to talk to your professors, and try to hang out with a few fellow students once or twice a week. Email and IM clients like msn and gtalk are also good ways to keep in touch. These relationships can be useful both in your social life, and in making connections for your future career.
5. Manage Your Employment
Most adults that go back to school do so while keeping a job.
If employment is necessary while in school, see what your university offers as far as online and night classes. These can be great options that allow you more flexibility in your schedule, so you can continue working.
6. Balance your Time
Taking on a college education can seem overwhelming.
Make sure not to overbook yourself at first. It’s fine to start out with only one or two classes, until you get used to the extra workload. Make sure not to neglect your work, family, and other important aspects of your life. As you get used to being in college, you can take on a heavier course load.
7. Doing Well
If you haven’t been in a school setting for a while, it might seem scary to think about writing papers and having exams again. It’s important you have enough time to study.
Consider studying with fellow students to help form relationships. You can also go to your professor for help, or take advantage of tutoring services offered by your school.
8. Get Involved
Of course, getting involved in campus groups and clubs isn’t necessarily a given for many older adults. However, there may be clubs that could interest to you, and could be helpful for your future career. Going to your university’s sporting events is a fun way to relax and support your school.
MLR’s Note: Example of a club that could be helpful for your future career: The Supply Chain Society if you are getting a degree in supply chain management or logistics!
9. Manage Stress
An adult is faced with several extra stress factors such as additional jobs, bills, and family pressures, that other college students often don’t. Make sure you take time for yourself, especially if things get stressful, and stay organized so that assignments don’t pile up.
10. Enjoy Yourself!
Going back to college is a decision you made for you. It’s hard work, but it shouldn’t be all difficult. Make sure you take time to relax, socialize, and enjoy the time that you’re in college.
There are many opportunities while at the university, and you won’t have them after you’ve completed your studies. Make the most out of your decision to go back to school.
And Oh Yeah, Network!
If you didn’t gather from each tip, they are all enhanced by networking. So, despite the fact that you were sporting your leather coat and shades in the 80s in your Firebird while your college “peers” were just being born, they will be valuable contacts to have.
You never know, the young’n next to you may be the next Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, or Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos.