Steps to take if you want to Return to College

Are you considering returning to college? If you have been out of the world of education for a while, it may be daunting to think about the work ahead of you. However, hard work often pays off in huge rewards, both internally and externally. I’ve experienced this. One of my greatest achievements was when I graduated with a BA from the University of Nevada, Reno, with Distinction. I was so very proud of what I had accomplished. It had been many years of struggling, but I graduated top of my class, with a 3.97 gpa. Not only did I graduate with Distinction, but I did it while overcoming mental health issues and raising four children. It was a beautiful day and a heart warming memory.

So again, are you considering returning to college? Let me make it a little easier for you. Here are a few steps that may make the return a little less frightening:

First, consider whom this will affect. Once you’ve done this, have a conversation with each person and express your sincere need for their support. It will be necessary to have a support team for the days when you feel you’ve made an awful mistake and wish you could say “poof” and you would be gone. Those days will come. Be prepared.

Second, choose whether you want to attend a college or a university. Consider the pro’s and con’s of each before you make a solid choice. You should think about the courses offered in each, the degrees offered, the proximity to your home, the amount of students attending and the amount of students per class, and of course, the financial obligation for each. Take your time. This is going to be a big decision. You want to feel comfortable that you gave it the time and effort it deserves. You may also think about whether this college or university will allow you to go further in case you decide to shoot for a Master’s or a Ph.D. Be informed.

Third, carefully consider how you will afford this endeavor. Again, planning ahead will allow you to feel good about your choice. Will you have to work part time? Will you have to work evenings and attend school during the day? Will you have to travel, therefore spending money in gas and/or getting home late? Can you carpool? Check into financial aide. This will be quite important in planning your budget for the next few years. Will you be studying for a certificate, an Associate’s Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree? Or, have you received your Bachelor’s Degree and will be studying for your Master’s or Ph.D.? This information will also be important in your budgeting process. Be ready.

Finally, are you prepared for the challenge? Have you considered the changes you will need to make in your personal life, your family life, and your professional life? You will need to sit with yourself and consider how many hours a week you are willing to commit to studying and preparing term papers, while still maintaining a satisfying life. You may want to take one refresher course in the summer before you begin a full semester to remind yourself of what it takes to be a student. There are those who love school and are self motivated; then there are those who want a degree, but hate school and will need to be supported and encouraged to attend faithfully. Again, careful planning will help you to feel comfortable with the choices you’ve made. Be optimistic.

Education is something no one can take from you. It is a part of you and an investment in yourself as a person and a professional. You are worth it. Believe in yourself and enjoy the journey as you move toward your goals! Be successful.