When you’ve decided it’s time to get your bachelor’s degree, it’s exciting but also scary. You’ve got a family to raise, a house payment to make, your job to maintain. Now you’re going to add in the time commitment of attending class and the pressure of late-night study sessions. There are things you can do, however, that will make going back to school easier. Here are five tips to make your return to academia a booming success.
Prepare Your Finances
You’re probably not looking at the cost of living in a dorm, but the cost of college and all the paraphernalia you need to go with it can be overwhelming. If you are going back to school to get a different and better job, it may be worth it to take time off from full-time work and rely on student loans. Also, look at all the grants and scholarships available.
There are hundreds of scholarships aimed specifically at single parents trying to improve their circumstances, but no matter your personal circumstances, you’ll likely find a scholarship aimed at you.
Don’t just look at the cost of the college for this year, but what their annual increases have looked like over the past several years. Look into what tuition rates they’ve proposed and if they have any sort of guaranteed rate. Guaranteed tuition plans have become increasingly popular, offering a locked-in rate for four years and allowing you to plan your costs.
Work Toward a Goal
Deciding you want to go back to school but not deciding what you want to do is a good way to spend a lot of time and money without getting anywhere. If you aren’t sure what you want to do, a couple of years of general core requirements may wear you down and make you think that there isn’t a point. Create your goal from the start and you’ll know that every class you take is taking you one step closer to your dream. That doesn’t mean you can’t change your goal. If you get into a nursing program only to discover you don’t like dealing with sick people, it’s perfectly acceptable to reevaluate. You might lose a little time, but you’ll keep yourself motivated and set yourself up for a lifetime of fulfillment.
Take It Seriously
If you’ve been working a day job for years or you just returned from an overseas deployment where your job involved life and death every day, it can be a little disconcerting to suddenly find yourself in a classroom where many of your classmates are still raising their hands to go to the restroom. Besides the difference in experience, your general education requirements can have you questioning the value of returning to school at all. When you start feeling that way, go back to your goal. Focus on what you can get out of the process, not where other people are on their own journeys.
Network Like It’s Work
When you take college seriously it helps you treat college like it’s part of your job. You network at your work, finding the people who can help you get ahead or help collaborate on plans; do the same at college. Take the time to visit with professors during office hours. Explain your goals and you’ll be surprised at the help they can give you. They’ll also be a great source of information on how to leverage your experience to make the most of the college experience. Don’t count out your classmates either. It might be easier to team up with students your own age, but younger students bring their own experiences and information that can broaden your horizons.
Go In Excited
Finally, you’ve made the decision to make your life better, be excited about it. Your attitude will influence every moment of time you spend in school. Let it be an exciting time, a time where you’ll get more out of it and it will be more meaningful than it ever would have been before.
These tips and a lot of hard work will bring your dream closer to fruition every day.