7 Tips for Going Back to School as an Adult


Going back to school as an adult is a huge undertaking. At this point in your life, you’ve probably established a family, a career, a home, and several other things that demand your time, attention, and money. 

However, if you know you’re on the wrong career path, continuing in the same direction will only make you miserable. You’ll always wonder what could have been. 

Fortunately, countless others have gone before you and proven that it’s possible to change your current trajectory, earn a degree, and live happily ever after. 

We want to help make your dream a reality. Keep reading for our top seven tips on how to go back to school as an adult. 

1. Check Your Finances

First, you need to make sure you’re in the right financial position to go back to school. There are several free online courses you can find to earn certificates, but your overall goal may require a full degree. 

Attending college classes won’t be cheap, and you shouldn’t sacrifice your financial security to go to school. We recommend looking into student loans and college grants for people in your situation. 

Though it will take more time, you may also need to limit how many classes you’re taking to ensure you can afford the costs. Consider taking only one or two classes a semester. This may also be a good idea based on how much time you have each week to put into your education.

2. Be Sure of Your Decision

Making a career change is a big deal. Whatever progress you’ve made thus far, will essentially be reset. As noted earlier, going back to school as an adult means investing a lot of time and money into your new path. 

We’re not trying to dissuade you from making this change, but you must be certain of your decision. Will the outcome be worth the sacrifices it took to get there? Are you sure you want to commit to everything this new course of action will entail?

3. Use the Resources Available to You

There are several benefits of online school. First, it allows you to choose where you want to get your degree from and what degree you want. Furthermore, online schooling also offers tons of resources to help you reach your goals. 

For example, through the college, you have career counseling services. You can also reach out to your professors and instructors if you need explanations on assignments or have any other questions.

Finally, if you need further assistance or don’t feel comfortable reaching out to other students, you can find free online courses to brush up on the basics, further your education, and gain valuable certifications.

4. Make Your Education a Priority 

Going back to school as an adult can be more difficult if your time is divided. If you have a house full of family members and are still holding onto a part-time or full-time job, it can feel impossible to find time for school.

You must make your education a priority. Furthermore, you must set personal boundaries to ensure you have a secure environment to learn in. You can’t have people coming in and interrupting you every five minutes while you’re listening to a lecture or taking an exam. 

Talk to your family about your goals and what will be required in order for you to reach them. Your spouse may need to take on more responsibilities with the kids. And your kids will need to learn how to respect your schooling time.

5. Connect With Other Students in the Class

Online classes are typically hosted on platforms where students can communicate with one another. If you have questions about how to complete assignments, due dates, test schedules, and more, you can reach out to your fellow students. 

Though you are probably older than most of the other students, you can still form study groups that can benefit everyone involved. You can work together to study for tests, work on difficult assignments, and more.

Many colleges also provide free tutors (usually other students) who can help you if you’re struggling in any of your classes. Whether you’re going to the college campus or are taking all of your classes online, connecting with other students can help you feel more invested in the class. 

6. Define a Clear Set of Goals

Staying focused on your goals is one of the most important aspects of going back to school. It’s essential in learning how to go to school online. When you’re not attending a physical class, it can be easy to blow off classes. 

You can tell yourself you’ll catch up later. However, every time you procrastinate, you make things harder for yourself in the future. 

Combat this by defining your goals. Why are you going back to school? Why is it important to you?

Write your goals down where you will see them every day. They should serve as a reminder of the outcome of your hard work and as motivation to keep pushing. 

7. Stay Patient and Positive 

Going back to school as an adult means adopting a patient and positive attitude. College classes can be stressful under the best circumstances. If you’re simultaneously juggling school, work, and kids, expect some tension. 

Learn methods of reducing stress in various situations. This can be helpful when you have a full night of studying or homework ahead of you or right before a test. 

However, you also need to create space for self-care in your weekly routine. We recommend activities that have also been shown to improve mental focus, decrease anxiety, and release endorphins. Possible suggestions include lifting weights, jogging, doing yoga, and meditating. 

You should also take time to relax. Spend time on your favorite hobby, watch TV, play videogames, and enjoy a glass of wine at dinner. 

Are You Thinking About Going Back to School as an Adult?

If you know you’re in the wrong field, it’s easy to resent going to work every day. Why stay at a job that makes you miserable, especially when you know what you’d rather be doing?

If you’re worried about going back to school to get the degree or certification you need, you’re not alone. There are countless resources out there to help people just like you. You can do this.

For more educational, career, or lifestyle advice, read through some of our other articles while you’re here. Our blog is full of content created for people like you trying to improve their lives.