Returning to School Later in Life

Either you have spent some time in the working world and want to add a degree (or another) to your resume, or you have been a stay at home parent and the children are almost old enough for you to return to work, and you have decided to go back to school. The prospect of returning to the classroom almost has you in a sweat. The idea that you don’t even need to go to a classroom makes your head spin. There are many options available for learning and you are not sure where to start. Where do you begin?

The first place to start is to think about the reasons for returning to school. Are you hoping for a raise? Do you want to show that you have new skills? Have you stated in the past that you were always going to go back and get your degree, so this is the year? Understanding your motivation will help you solidify how serious you are about your education. Additionally, it will be important to think about whether you are returning to school because you want to go or someone else said you should go. The motivation will be stronger if you are returning to school because you want to.

Another point to think about is your time availability for school. Do you have the time to go full-time? Will you need to go part-time? Are you going to have to look to see if there are weekend only classes available? Motivation is important but not the only factor to consider. If you simply do not have the time to devote to studies then you will do poorly when you go. You will need to think about your work/family schedule and how much time you can and will need to devote to studies.

There is the choice of attending school online or attending at a brick and mortar institution. For those considering online, it will be important to assess your level of concentration and dedication. Some schools do not have a set time for classes; the day lasts for the full 24 hours, so if you attend at any time during the 24 hours (in the given time zone) then you will have attended for the day. This will require discipline. Additionally, with online classes there is a great deal of offline study that is required. So carving out time each day to study will be essential.

While we do not want to think about growing older, it will be important to assess if you will need assistance. For some, their eyes aren’t what they used to be and they will need to look into either large print books or a magnifier to see the text (either on the screen or in a book). Others will need to look into sound amplifying equipment. If you cannot see or hear clearly in the classroom, this will negatively impact your learning and motivation to continue. Additionally, some people are just not that tech savvy. If the classroom requires computer work, or takes place online, then you might need to take a basic computer class before you begin.

Going back to school does not need to be a scary prospect. If you take the time to assess your reason for going, your availability to attend, and if you will need any assistance, then you will have a good foundation when you start. Sharing this news with family and friends can make the choices easier because they can share their experiences with you. They can tell you what worked for them and any tips and tricks that they used.

Congratulations on your decision to return to school! Good luck!

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