Do you have college experience but no college degree? According to research, more than 31 million Americans have some college credits, but did not finish a degree. While college may not have worked for you the first time around, there are plenty of reasons to go back and finish that degree.
College is a long term investment, so take the time to plan and follow these tips to make your return to college a success.
1. Find the Right Fit
Finding the right school can make all the difference in your success. Adult learners prefer a college that is affordable and fits into their schedule with a convenient location or an online option. As a non-traditional student, chances are you have a job and maybe a family. College needs to be flexible to fit into your life.
Find a school that offers college and career guidance. There is a lot to figure out when you go back to school. You have to choose a program, pay for school, figure out a workable schedule, find your classes and get your books and supplies together. And that’s before you even start classes. Having support at the college you can rely on will eliminate a lot of the stress that can go along with returning to college. A college with career services can offer support even after graduation.
2. Organize Your Study Routine
You will need to make time in your schedule to study and do your schoolwork. Set aside a regular time to study each week. Set your routine every quarter so you keep up with coursework and improve your time management skills.
Having a dedicated study space will help to make the most of your study time. A quiet space away from noise and interruptions, set up with the supplies you need will allow you to make efficient use of your time.
It’s tempting to want to get your degree as quickly as possible, but give yourself time to adjust to the demands of college. Taking too many classes too soon can lead to burnout. Decide how much time you have in your schedule to devote to studying and work with your college representative to set up a schedule that you can be successful with.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that online classes will be easier or take less time. Online classes will require discipline on your part as the student. Not having to show up prepared for class at a regular time puts more responsibility on you. Commit to putting in the time you need to keep up with your classes.
If it’s been a while since you were in school, ease into it by taking your easier classes the first quarter or two. Save more challenging classes for later when you have your routine down and are into the college mindset. Set yourself up for success.
4. Check on Transfer Credits and Work Experience
Make the most of the experience that you have. If you have already earned college credits, check the transfer credit policies at the college you are considering to see if your credits will apply. Some colleges also accept work experience. Shorten the time it takes to earn your degree and make college more affordable by getting credit for for the knowledge and experience you have accumulated.
5. Build Your Support System
College is a commitment. Talk to your friends and family about your dedication to getting a degree. Having their support is another key to success. They can help out with chores and errands and understand when you need to study and get things done. Let your family be your cheerleaders.
Sharing the importance of education with your children is a great example for them. Even small children can understand your need for study time. Your study habits can rub off on them.
6. Make Connections
College is a great place to grow your social and professional network. Your classmates are going through the same stresses and concerns. Get to know them through study groups or share lecture notes. You can support each other and gain from diverse experiences.
Your instructors are great resources for industry advice and networking with career contacts. Get to know them. They have the big picture view of your career field and make great references when you are looking for a job.
Making connections can pay off in many ways. Your instructors and classmates can provide advice and support while you are in school and your professional network can pay off throughout your career.
Going back to school to complete your college degree will benefit your career. Take the steps necessary to make your return successful.