Few things remain “traditional” when it comes to college students these days.
While the formula once may have seemed more straightforward – finish high school, then shoot for a four-year degree – people have begun to realize that other post-secondary educational options exist when it comes to seeking a rewarding, long-term career.
This includes the existence of career colleges, which offer students of all ages and backgrounds a more focused, hands-on training experience that caters to those seeking entry-level skills toward a specific career. As such post-secondary educational options have evolved, so has the face and demographic of your “typical” college student.
At Florida Career College, our students come to us from a wide variety of backgrounds and age groups. Some enroll straight from high school, sure, but many others find us after years in the workforce, following overseas deployments in the military, and even after raising children into adulthood.
Regardless of age or even educational background, they come to us seeking a new and/or better career and, hence, a better life for themselves. And sometimes, if it’s been several years since they’ve been in school, they come to us full of anxiety, unsure if they have what it takes to go back to school and be successful students.
Our short answer for such students is, “Yes, you do have what it takes.” The reality of it, however, is that success still takes planning, effort, and even a little bit of help … regardless of age. If you choose to back to school as an adult, this post provides you with a helpful list of tips for going back to school as an adult.
Going Back to School as an Adult
Here are some tips for going back to school as an adult regardless of how many years you’ve been out of school:
1. Do Your Homework
Yes, homework is important while you’re in school, but we’re talking about doing your homework before even enrolling in a school. If you’re looking to enroll in a career college there are many advantages for doings, but be sure to first schedule a visit to the school and make sure they offer the programs you’re interested in. Take a tour of its campus, meet with its admissions team … perhaps even see if you can sit in on a class. Make sure you feel 100 percent comfortable with the school and its people before considering enrollment.
2. Look into Financial Aid
While you’re visiting, be sure to ask about financial aid options at the school. No matter your age, financial aid – in the form of loans, grants, scholarships, and so on –typically financial aid available for those who qualify. At FCC, additional financial aid options are even available for veterans, members of the military, and their families. Making sure you have a plan to pay for college before you enroll will go a long way in helping you focus on what matters: education and career training.
3. Be Positive
Even if you’re feeling anxious or out of your element, a positive attitude can go a long way toward maintaining your focus, keeping yourself motivated, and helping you succeed in the classroom. Instead of worrying you’re the oldest person in the class or that others have more experience than you, focus on what you have to offer. Your age is an asset, and it often comes with a level of experience, maturity and perspective that others in the class may not possess.
4. Create a Schedule
While you’re enrolled at the school, chances are you’ll also be juggling family, a job, and other personal commitments. To make things easier, establish a firm and consistent schedule before you start school to ensure you have enough time for everything, including homework and plenty of sleep. By offering daytime, evening, and hybrid schedules, FCC offers multiple schedule options to accommodate your personal schedule.
5. Ask for Help
If you could do this all by yourself, you wouldn’t need career training, would you? Don’t assume you should be able to understand or handle everything on your own. If you have trouble logging onto the computer or grasping certain concepts, or you simply get stuck on homework, seek help from your instructor(s) or even your classmates. Beyond campus, don’t hesitate to recruit family members and friends to help out with childcare, rides to school, study help, and so on. You’re surrounded by a village; don’t hesitate to make use of their resources.
Whether it’s in the classroom, in the lab, on campus, online, or at your externship, don’t be a wallflower. Being a participant! Whether engaging in classroom discussions, asking questions, joining study groups, or taking part in volunteer efforts through Florida Career College, being social and engaging helps with academic retention, personal confidence, and maintaining a positive attitude.
7. Get Plenty of Sleep
Those who get plenty of sleep tend to concentrate better, be more productive, and generally experience improved brain production than those who skimp on sleep. So, while it may be tempting sometimes, be sure to get a full night’s sleep – they say seven to nine hours for adults – whenever you can while going to school!
8. Find Time for Yourself
When you’re busy with school, work and family, it can start to feel like you don’t have any time for yourself. Yes, school is part of your self-improvement, but even in the daily grind, it’s beneficial to take a few moments to yourself once in a while to think, go for a walk, read a book, watch a movie, or simply relax under the sun. Taking time for yourself, according to Psychology Today, “gives your brain a chance to reboot, improves concentration, increases productivity, helps you discover (or rediscover) your own voice, gives you a chance to think deeply, and helps you problem solve more effectively.”
9. Keep Your Eye on Your Goals
When times get hard, take a step back and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. What led you to where you are today, and what goal(s) do you have for yourself in the future? If you have to, write it down in a prominent spot (i.e., on your computer or phone, in your study space, on the mirror of your bathroom … wherever you’ll see it) so that you keep your eye on the ball and remind yourself that while school isn’t permanent, the knowledge and skills you get from it are.
10. Keep in Mind You’re Not Alone
At FCC, you are surrounded by a support group made up of instructors, faculty, students and staff who are rooting for you and are available to help you whenever you need it. Your success is our success, so we’ve made it our business to do whatever we can to ensure you achieve the career goals you’ve set out for, regardless of age.
We hope that these tips help adults who are thinking about going back to school!