adults going back to school

What to Expect When Going Back to School as an Adult

Thinking of going back to school? Excellent! It’s never too late to get your degree.

In fact, for busy adults with jobs, families, and other responsibilities to juggle, going back to school has never been more accessible. Plus, the wealth of online and hybrid programs available makes going back to school as an adult an easier decision than it’s ever been.

That being said, it’s not a step to take without careful consideration.

First, you’ll want to make sure you’re in it for the right reasons. Going back to school is a commitment, and a little preparation can go a long way.

Answer These Questions:

  • Why do you want to go back to school?

Be honest with yourself when considering this. There are many valid reasons for wanting to obtain your degree. If you want to complete a degree to gain additional qualifications, change careers, network with professors and students, improve teamwork skills or practice time management—then you’re probably on the right track. But if you’re bored, just looking for something new to do, or trying to prove to your nosy aunt that she was wrong about you next Thanksgiving…then going back to school may not be the solution you’re looking for. Keep in mind getting a degree can be challenging at times—you’ll want to make sure your reasons for going back to school will keep you motivated during the tough parts.

  • What do you want to study?

In addition to questioning your motives for going back to school, take time to consider your goals and areas of interest. More than likely, in your adult years, you have a solid understanding of what you want to do with your career. Having clear-sight on your professional goals can help you choose a degree program that aligns with them, and gets you where you want to go. Having your interests and goals carved out will also help you stay engaged and motivated throughout your time in school.

  • What’s your timeline?

When do you want to finish your degree? In a traditional four years? Longer? Shorter? Carefully consider how much time you’d like to invest in getting your degree.

  • What other responsibilities are you juggling?

In order to choose the right program for you, be realistic about the time you have to devote to school. If you’re a single, working parent, your time is likely limited. You may only have a few hours each week to spare for your degree, so you will need to find a program – whether that be online or part-time – that can accommodate your scheduling needs.

There’s no degree program that’s perfect for everyone. That’s why it’s worth taking the time to know your answers to these essential questions. With this in mind, you’ll easily find a program that fits your needs and sets you up for success.

Adults Going Back to School Should Know…

It can be scary to return to school after years outside of the educational system. But the good news is:

  • You’re not alone.

A lot of people return to get their degree later on. Whether you joined the workforce straight out of high school, took a few college courses at 18 and it didn’t work out, or simply weren’t interested in college until now, you won’t be the only mature student studying for your degree. There are all sorts of reasons adults go back to school—it matters most that you’re doing it now!

  • You have an advantage.

Research shows that adult learners are more self-motivated and results-oriented than the traditional, out-of-high-school student. Although you may feel anxious about going back to school, rest assured that you have the tools you need to succeed. As an adult, you have a greater understanding of your goals, learning style, and needs, and this in turn can benefit your progress in school. You also have more developed skills in time management and communication, which can translate to achievement in various aspects of your program.

  • Your work experience is valuable.

Getting a degree after a few years (or decades) in the workforce can also be a serious advantage. In fact, tests like the CLEP can help you get college credit for entry-level courses since you’ve already mastered the material on the job.

Whether you’re just beginning to think about returning to school or have already been accepted, congratulate yourself on this step you’re taking to enhance your future.

Financing Your Education

Paying for higher education is no one’s favorite part of the process. Luckily, there are many programs and funding available for those looking to get their degree at any age.

  • FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Take advantage of federal funding for undergrad and graduate school. It’s free to find out if you’re eligible and only takes a few minutes.

  • Scholarships

Besides government funding, there are many other scholarships available. Depending on a myriad of factors, you may be eligible for some unexpected cash!

  • Talk to your boss.

If you’re currently employed, your company may offer programs that help fund higher education. Schedule a chat with your boss or manager to see what opportunities may be available.

Establishing a School/Life Balance

One of the most intimidating factors in going back to school as an adult is the challenge of balancing multiple responsibilities. More than likely, you have other obligations like children at home, a full-time job, or caretaking for an aging relative. Rest assured you’re not alone. The majority of adult students are keeping multiple plates spinning while pursuing their degree. More importantly, there are flexible program options for you. It is possible to earn your degree while balancing other priorities.

Many universities, for example, will offer accelerated programming, career certifications, online or hybrid courses, and other accommodations for students needing flexibility and looking to get the most out of their decision to return to the classroom.

If you’re committed to the idea of returning to college as an adult, you will find a way to make it work. The final advantage you have over your younger self is just that—you’re older and wiser now! Maturity and life experience mean that, when push comes to shove, you’ll be able to focus on your studies, invest your time wisely, juggle multiple responsibilities, and succeed no matter what challenges pop up.

You got this!

University of Bridgeport is a recognized institution in Connecticut, with an array of career-oriented graduate and undergraduate programs for adult learners. If you would like to learn more about UB, you may contact an admissions specialist online here.