How Preparation Overcomes Worry for the Adult Student

Going back to school as an adult can be a scary adventure. Concerns are plentiful. Many times adult students worry about fitting-in, being able to learn, not knowing the material, and the list continues expanding with each thought. Any student may become anxious with school but can the anxious moments by understanding the purpose for seeking the additional education.

Life offers many challenges but none seem as daunting as being the older student in a classroom full of twenty something’s. Some people will tell the adult student that it is time to retire, you are too old to learn, can you keep up.  Other adult students worry about  children, health, jobs, and how they will be able to go to school full time. These are all legitimate concerns that each adult student need to take seriously.  Therefore, adult students who wish to stop worrying about these challenges need to practice goal setting, reflection, environmental scanning, and strategic planning.

Goal setting

The best way to stop worrying about what people are saying is to focus on why pursuing additional education is important at this stage of life. Every adult student need to commit to writing the purpose for obtaining additional education.  Once this is established, the student need to expand this purpose into a workable action plan that details all the milestone important to reaching the goal.  This is important because it helps remind the adult student the reason for the educational journey.  During this process it is important to list any possible risks that may occur.  This helps prepare the student for what he or she may face as an older student.


Once the purpose, goal, and action plan are in place daily reflection becomes necessary as a second step. Reflections need to be written in a daily journal capturing feelings, emotions, successes, set-backs and the actions being taken that create these moments. This technique helps the adult jog his or her memory daily why getting additional education is important and will allow the student quickly determine if he or she is hindering his or her own progress. Being able to recognize problems goes a long way to finding solutions.

Environmental scanning

After establishing the reflection process the adult student is now ready to the third phase of environmental scanning. Taking the time to study events unfolding upon the community, state, national, and world stages can enhance the probability of success for the adult student. Many adult students can alleviate worries by knowing what is available to assist the adult student and discover they are not alone on the journey of seeking additional education.  Online schools can create the ideal situation for the adult student and reduce the anxiety about many of the issues facing going back to school.  When adult students realize others their age are also pursuing more education they are able to relax better.  Another benefit of environmental scanning is in developing the ability of knowing what is ahead on the educational journey to allow time to prepare for the changes one need to make to be successful. Therefore, careful plans can be made to overcome the challenges and maintain mental focus on the task at hand.

Strategic planning

Along with the action plan, the adult student need to develop and incorporate a strategic educational plan that details the milestones and steps necessary to overcome challenges. Challenges can be overcome when the pitfalls are visible for the adult student. Careful identification of problems, establishing a contingency plan for risks, and establishing an alternative strategy is helpful.