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Making the Choice to Go Back to School as an Adult: Things to Consider

written by: Brenda Barrett•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 5/9/2014

Congratulations on your pending college career. After many years, this is a major decision to make. However, before the confetti and cheering; there are a few decisions that you have to make before filling out that admission form.

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    Adults Going Back To College

    Going to college is a major decision for high school graduates. However, the decision increases tenfold when you have passed the high school phase, and you are now ready for that college degree. Whatever your reason for going back to college after many years, think this decision through carefully. Consider the factor or factors that prevented you from finishing college in the first place and ensure that these factors are no longer an issue.

    Going back to college after many years 

    Financial Planning

    According to The Condition of Education (1996) by Thomas M. Smith, high tuition cost was one of the chief reasons for individuals to drop out of college. This information seems to prove the importance of financial planning before going to college, and it remains true even while attending college.

    The fact is, going to college is an expensive undertaking. Before taking the plunge students should construct a financial plan which reflects anticipation of all incomes and expenditures. This financial plan serves as a blueprint for the costs incurred while in college. These include costs such as: tuition cost, room and board, living expenses (if living at home, like rent and mortgage), food, emergencies, entertainment or social expenses, day or night care expenses if you have children, and miscellaneous expenses. This is an important first step and should not be overlooked.

    Current Job

    Another major consideration before going back to college is your current job. Working full time and studying is not the easiest thing to do. However, many persons have done it successfully; therefore, you have to assess your individual workload and weigh the costs. If your job is very demanding, assess whether you can give your employers 100% of your time and energy, but still find time for school. This may be an opportune time to speak to the Human Resources Manager and tell him of your plans and assess ways in which your college schedule can be incorporated in your work schedule. Some companies are quite amenable to their employees studying and will be accommodating with time for examinations or study time leading up to an exam. Find out how flexible your employer is before starting college.

    Personal and Family Responsibilities

    Family support, or lack thereof, is a major factor that can either derail or boost your intention to go back to college. Never underestimate the family stress factor in your ability to do college work. If your family is not supportive of this major step, it impairs your performance at college. Sort out family responsibilities such as child care, parent care, existing on limited income, and commuting problems before going back to college. Ventilate all the issues with the relevant family members and find workable solutions together to offset the problems before you embark on your college degree.

    Academic Preparedness

    Another factor to consider before going back to college is the issue of academic preparedness. If you are not prepared for school academically you may feel overwhelmed when you start classes. To avoid this situation go to the college website and view your courses. Look at the specific topics and start doing research on the subject area or buy the textbooks for the course and do preliminary reading. This can make a big difference in how you approach classes and gives you sense of keeping up with those who are fresh out of high school.

    Going back to college after many years is a major decision, but with proper planning and organizing it can be done without causing a major upheaval in your life. Are you an adult who is considering going back to school? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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