Answers for Adults Returning to College

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These tough economic times have caused many adults to consider going back to school. Some need to learn specialized skills to obtain higher paying jobs, while, unfortunately, others have lost their jobs and need to pursue a new direction. Whatever the reason for returning to college or enrolling for the first time, the process can be overwhelming and intimidating. Here are the answers to some of the questions you may have.

Will I Be Able To Keep Up?

Adult learners often worry about their rusty academic skills. Will you be able to keep up with the younger students? It may have been a while since you’ve cracked a book, and you may have household and family obligations to attend to, but it’s likely that you possess life skills that will help you to be a successful student and to balance your load.

Keep in mind that studying is just another skill. Chances are you’ve learned lots of skills on the job or at home that have since become second nature. Treat college as you would any new job and give yourself time to learn the routine. Be certain to start at a pace that fits your lifestyle, taking only a course or two, at least until you learn the ropes. Use your life experience to your advantage and try not to allow the youth of traditional aged students intimidate you.

Will I Even Get In?

Maybe you weren’t a stellar student in high school. That’s okay. Most admissions programs take different criteria into consideration for adult students.  Check with the admissions office of your preferred school to see what you’ll need to do. Also, don’t forget that community colleges are a great, lower cost  place to start and often don’t have formal admissions requirements.

What Degree Should I Get?

This is a very individualized subject. There are numerous factors to consider. If you’ve recently lost a job, it’s possible that you have the most choices available to you. Would you be interested in pursuing an entirely new career? There are agencies and programs that assist workers who’ve lost their jobs due to the economy. Ask your admissions officer for referrals.

If you’re looking to gain skills in your current line of work, it’s likely that you have an idea of what to take. Be sure to talk to a human resources representative at your company to coordinate what courses you need with the adviser at your college. Together, they can help to ensure that you’re on the right path.  If you’re totally unsure of what to take, go to your school’s career services center for guidance. And don’t worry, you can start as an undecided student and choose a major down the road. That’s perfectly okay.

The first step in becoming a college student is to ask questions. Get in touch with admissions department at local schools and go from there. Another great resource is You’ll find tons of information here to help you navigate the process of going to college as an adult.


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