Here’s an interesting fact: in 2019, 36 million Americans underwent some postsecondary education but did not finish it.
Clearly, a significant amount of people end up abandoning college. However, many of these individuals return to college later on, when pursuing a degree is more feasible.
There are many reasons why one may return to college! Perhaps you didn’t have the financial means to continue your education back then, but now you do.
Or maybe, your return to college is due to wanting to increase your opportunities of getting a promotion!
When you return to college, as a non-traditional student, you will have to be mindful of things that your 18-year-old counterparts may not.
For example, you may have to determine if the college’s program will fit into your time schedule. Or see if you will be able to apply transfers of previously earned college credits.
Here at Gradehacker, we assist non-traditional college students in different ways, such as with coursework or exams and being a trusted resource. From our years of experience, we have seen how many students who return to college struggle to have a stress-free, simple transition to college.
But don’t worry, you’re in the right place. This article will be sharing seven tips that we have given to our clients. These tips are vital to ensure that you successfully return to college!
You can check our Youtube channel and find more of our articles turned into videos!
Why Do Older Adults Return to College?
There are many motivators that can push you to return to college and get that degree! Here we will be mentioning some of the most common reasons.
To Remain Competitive in the Workplace
You’ve been working with the same company for years, but the number of young fresh out of college employees who work for a lower salary keeps increasing.
When faced with this situation, it may push you to find ways to remain competitive in the workplace.
Education is a great way to stay competitive in the workplace and have an advantage over your coworkers.
To Increase Your Career or Salary Advancement Opportunities
Maybe you feel stuck in a rut and unmotivated in your job because you haven’t had the luck of getting a career or salary advancement.
Furthering your college education is a game changer in order to be desirable in the workplace.
When you return to college, you can expand your knowledge, skills, and capabilities. This will make you a lot more likely to receive that promotion you’ve been longing for.
To Pursue a More Fulfilling Career
Are you feeling underwhelmed by your job and often find yourself longing to have studied a different career?
This is a major reason why older adults return to college!
Many return to college searching for a more fulfilling and meaningful career instead of being tied down to a job that doesn’t excite them.
To Finish A Degree You Had Started
The most common reason that students return to college is that life got in the way when they were previously enrolled in college.
Maybe you had kids to take care of, and the best option was to quit college altogether. Or maybe you just weren’t in the right headspace for college back then and took it for granted.
Whatever the reason is, these adults return as they are aware of how important a college degree is.
You Can Successfully Manage Your Education Now
Maybe back then, you didn’t have the resources to continue your college education. But now, you have a job and can financially support yourself and your college career.
Nowadays, you can access many financial resources, such as employer tuition assistance or scholarships for older adults.
Now that we’ve covered the main motivators for adults choosing to return to college let’s get into 7 essential tips that you need to know for your return.
1. Define Your Why
When you return to college, a necessary step is to define your “why.” You may be thinking, what is this philosophical nonsense? What do you mean?
Defining your why means defining what is pushing you to get that college degree. There can be several motivators, such as getting a better job position or maintaining your family better.
No matter what your motivator is, write down your reasoning and the goals you have in mind to return to college.
It is important to set measurable goals, such as how many courses you want to take in your first year or the GPA you want to achieve.
Whenever you feel unmotivated during your college journey, you can refer back to your reasoning and goals and remember why you are there in the first place!
The goals will also ensure that you stay on track and achieve what you desire.
If you don’t complete this step, it’s very easy to feel unmotivated and yearn to quit college completely!
By ignoring this step, you may find yourself saying, “why am I even here?” Or, “is it that important that I finish this college degree?”
2. Choose a School That Suits Your Needs
When you return to college, the most important part is to do extensive research prior to enrolling in a college. And to choose the college that suits your learning needs!
As a non-traditional student, your ideal college checklist may look different from a younger student.
You may have a demanding schedule outside of college filled with responsibilities such as your job or taking care of your family.
If this is the case, an online program might better suit your busy schedule.
Being an older student, you may not want to sacrifice so many years for your career. If you can relate, an accelerated program may be an excellent option for you.
That way, you can complete your career in a fast-paced manner and not have to worry about losing years due to your degree.
3. Determine Your Eligibility for College Credits
As a returning college student, this is a crucial step! For your return to college, you should take advantage of the previous experience you already have.
You may have a previous college experience that you can use for college credits. Or, you may have military experience that you can use for credits.
Even if you don’t have previous college experience, some colleges give you credit for the knowledge you’ve gained throughout your professional experience.
This is why it is important to talk to an admissions counselor! They can determine if your educational and professional background make you eligible for college credits.
4. See Your Financial Aid Options
It is a good idea to do research, research, and more research regarding the financial aid options you have available!
Do so before enrolling so you have a clear plan on how you will fund your college education.
Fill out the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will allow you to see if you’re eligible for state/federal aid, grants, student loans, or any scholarships.
If you need further help regarding FAFSA, visit our article on Everything You Should Know About Financial Aid (FAFSA).
Also, be sure to check out our article on financial aid resources for non-traditional students!
5. Support System at Home
Having support from your family members and close loved ones is crucial! Believe it or not, having a solid support system at home can improve your college performance.
A study found that students who received support from their families were: 19% more likely to have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, add to that they are 19% more likely to accumulate at least 24 credits during their first year, and 24% more likely to finish a second year of college.
Having your family by your side throughout your college journey can help your psychological well-being.
Also, a home support system can be vital in making it easier for you to attend college. For example, if you have children, your family can help you by taking care of them, making a difference!
6. Support System at College
Although you should prioritize your education over socializing when it comes to college, it is necessary to have a college support system!
Having a support system can change your college experience and promote your success.
To begin with, you should be very familiar with the sources of assistance you have available at your university. That way, you are aware of who you should contact depending on the problem you’re having.
You can also rely on Gradehacker for any problems you are having as we are the number 1 non-traditional student support system!
It is also valuable to establish connections with fellow students! Especially if they are also non-traditional students because that way, you will better relate to one another.
By making these connections, you can form study groups, and you will have people you can consult when you have a doubt on an assignment! This will boost your productivity and success.
7. Plan Out Your Time Schedule
It’s no mystery that non-traditional students tend to have a lot on their plate! Be it a family, a job; the list goes on!
It can be difficult to balance college with your other responsibilities. This is why planning out your schedule will be a lifesaver!
So how do you begin to plan? Well, once you receive your class schedule, plan out your other responsibilities around these hours.
Make sure to plan out each day to know what you need to accomplish on that specific day. Also, by doing so, you will be aware of how you need to spend your time to meet all of your responsibilities.
You Did It - Returning to College is Your New Goal!
Returning to college can be daunting because it involves a series of steps and things to look out for.
However, you should be proud of yourself for seeing the value of a college education and actually taking that step to pursue one!
Although you may feel afraid to begin your college journey due to being a non-traditional student, you should know that your life experience will give you an advantage that most of your counterparts won’t have.
As long as you follow these crucial steps, you’ll be on the right track to ensuring a successful transition to college! You did it!
We understand how stressful life transitions can be. We hope that you will no longer feel like your return to college has to be difficult after reading this article!
Below you will find some articles that you can read for relevant information as you are about to return to college: