7 Essential Tips For Your Return to College

7 Essential Tips for Your Return to College
Athina Hansen

Athina Hansen

Content Writer at Gradehacker

Updated on August 8th, 2022

Did you know that every year, almost 40% of college students drop out of their studies?

And it may have gotten worse due to the pandemic, since over 679,000 students who enrolled in the Fall of 2019 did not come back for the following year.

Yes, that’s a lot of people who end up abandoning college. 

However, enrolling back today is easier than ever, and that’s why so many of these students return to college later when pursuing a degree is more possible.

Even with the high number of students who dropout of college yearly, almost 945,000 of them re-enrolled in Fall of 2020.

There are many reasons why one may return to college!

Perhaps they couldn’t afford tuition costs to continue their education back then, but now they do. Or maybe, their return to college is due to wanting to increase their opportunities of getting a promotion!

Still, 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 for transfers of previously earned college credits.  

Here at Gradehacker, we are the non-traditional student’s most trusted resource. 

We assist people like you with their essays or exams, and 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. Here we are sharing seven tips that we have given to our clients that will ensure you successfully return to college!  

Are you a visual learner? 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 go back and finish college. Here we will be mentioning some of the most common reasons.

Remain Competitive in the Workplace

You’ve been working with the same company for years, but the number of young college graduates 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. And retaking that degree program you never finished is a great way to stay competitive in the workplace and have an advantage over your coworkers!

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.

One of the most important benefits of college is that furthering your education makes you more desirable and valuable in the workplace.

When you return to college, you can expand your knowledge, skills, and capabilities. This will make you much more likely to receive that promotion you’ve longed for.

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 returns to college searching for a more fulfilling and meaningful career option instead of being tied down to a job that doesn’t excite them.

Finish A Degree You Had Started

The most common reason students return to college is that life got in the way when they were previously enrolled.

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, adult students return as they are aware of how important an individual college degree is.

You Can Successfully Manage Your Education Now

Maybe back then, you didn’t have the resources to continue your college education and pay for the college costs. 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 the seven 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, expanding your career options, 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’s important to set measurable goals, such as how many college courses you want to take in your first year or the GPA you want to achieve. These will 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! You may find yourself saying, “why am I even here?” Or, “is it that important that I finish this college degree?”

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!

Keeping the motivation up can be hard, but if you want to learn more tips to stay motivated throughout the year, go ahead and check out our blog post.

2) Choose a School That Suits Your Needs

When you return to college, you need to make the most informed decision. So, you have to do extensive research before enrolling and choose the college that suits your learning needs!

As a non-traditional student, your ideal checklist may look different from a younger college 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 degree 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.

If you want to finish college as soon as possible, be sure to read our list of the best-accelerated programs or learn how to complete your degree program faster.

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 your experience.

You may have 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 hours for the knowledge you’ve gained throughout your professional experience.

This is why it is important to talk to your college’s admissions counselor! They can determine if your educational and professional background makes you eligible for college credits.

4) See Your Financial Aid Options

Just because you have a job and more financial resources don’t mean that college costs are easy-to-pay.

That’s why it’s 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 costs.

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 it, here is everything you should know about FAFSA.

Also, be sure to check out which are the best scholarships for non-traditional students!

5) Have a 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:

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 and making a difference!

6) Have a 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 know who you should contact depending on your problem.

You can also rely on Gradehacker for any problems you are having, as we are the number one non-traditional student support system!

It is also valuable to establish connections with fellow students! Especially if they are also non-traditional 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 about 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! Finding the perfect balance between college and your responsibilities can be difficult. That’s 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 many steps and things to look out for.

However, you should be proud of yourself for seeing the benefits of a college education and actually taking that step to pursue one!

Although you may feel afraid to begin your college journey as a non-traditional student, you should know that your life experience will give you an advantage that most of your counterparts won’t.

You have everything you need to make an informed decision. 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, but if you want to accelerate your degree, remember you can always count on Gradehacker to help you with your essays and classes.

If you want to learn more tips for your return to college, check out these related posts:

Athina Hansen

Athina Hansen

Athina has worked with Gradehacker both as a content writer and a study consultant, where she assisted college students with nursing courses. Athina has a background of educating others and producing content, having tutored college students and produced articles for her school magazine. She brings her experience to her current role, where she writes content to empower and assist the non-traditional college student who is often overlooked. You can find her on LinkedIn