Going Back to School as an Adult
Some things to consider when making the decision to go back to school to earn your degree.
I returned to college to get my degree at the age of 33, while a mom of 3 young children, all in daycare or elementary school at the time. I was also working nearly full-time, delivering newspapers on a motor route, third shift. Family and friends all predicted disaster and hardship, but it turned out to be the smartest move of my life.
My recommendation for anyone considering this move is to research the field you will be studying. Make sure the college you have chosen is fully accredited and can award you a degree that will allow you to move into your chosen field. Look at the course load carefully and see if old college credits will transfer.
Look at scholarship and finance options closely. There are a surprising number of scholarships for non-traditional age students. Check with your current employer for tuition reimbursement plans and whether this incurs any liabilities that would require you to stay on at the firm for a certain period.
Planning the budget carefully can mean the difference between failure and success. Remember to allow enough for books and commuting costs. If you contact the admissions department of your chosen school, they should be able to point you to someone who can give you accurate cost estimates. Don’t forget to inquire about lab, and miscellaneous fees.
Keep in mind when setting your course load that each hour of class attended will require 2-3 hours of homework. Tell family, friends and your current employer exactly what your time limitations will be ahead of time, so there are no unpleasant surprises later. Everybody needs to understand the game plan and be on board. Be willing to say “No” when your study schedule will not allow you to volunteer, or go out in the evenings. Do keep in mind that this is only for a few years. You can survive anything for four years!
Form a mental image of the proud day you will graduate and use this image as your favorite mental mini-vacation. You may have to resort to this trick many times during the college experience, but in the end, you will be so glad you stuck to the plan!
After three and a half years, I graduated, Cum Laude, and was able to wear a gold tassel over my black robes as I walked up to receive my diploma. My kids were very proud of their mom and took their own studies much more seriously as a result.