Once you’ve gotten back into college as an adult, it’s great to take a moment and celebrate your achievement. But you know the work has just begun. As you’re preparing to attend classes while also balancing work and personal obligations, Alpha Kappa Psi hopes this checklist will help you get on track and stay there until graduation.
- Consider Personal Obligations: While school is an exciting new element in your life, it’s important to start your adult college enrollment by fully assessing your other commitments and responsibilities. Some of these, like your job and your family, are necessary priorities in your life. Volunteerism, sports leagues, hobbies, and leisure time are also important, though a full schedule might mean they become less common. Go beyond simply thinking about these obligations and start a schedule for how you can keep them all in balance.
- Review Transcripts and Prior Learning Assessments: If you’ve attended college in the past, communicate with your new institution’s registrar about getting a review of your transcripts. Whether you’re pursuing a full degree or a certification, credit for your past courses can save you time and money. The same is true of prior learning assessments. These are tests offered by many institutions that allow you to obtain credit for classes based on your real-world experiences and knowledge. Completing these tasks before you create your class schedule will ensure you are spending your time and tuition on the right subjects of new learning.
- Brush Up on Student Skills: Skills like research, writing papers, and studying are not like riding a bike. If you haven’t used these skills in a long time, you might have lost them. Take time before you start classes to dive back into these habits. Study or research a subject you are interested in, or take a free online course to practice. As silly as it might sound, you could even try writing a paper just for the practice.
- Create a Workspace: With your busy schedule, the psychological benefits of establishing a school-specific workspace could be extremely useful in helping you get it all done. If there is a desk or part of your home that you know is only used for schoolwork, going there will help you get into the mindset faster and more efficiently. Elements like plants, a bulletin board or whiteboard, and school supplies can help this space feel unique within your daily schedule.
- Gather Technology and Source Textbooks: Part of your back-to-school checklist must include checking you have the technology and software you need to succeed. College today isn’t possible without some kind of computer or tablet, including word-processing software like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Depending on your program, area of study, and if you are doing school online, you also might need a specific Internet speed or bandwidth. Textbooks are another area of concern and expense for many students. Remember that in addition to buying books new through the campus bookstore, there are often textbook rental services, used book services, and even free sources for textbooks that can help you achieve your academics on a budget.
- Assess Your Apps: Lastly, going back to school means you might need to sacrifice some social media scrolling in the name of productivity. Apps like Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest can be big time-eaters, especially when we want to procrastinate. Rather than deleting these apps, start to monitor your use and see if you can control the number of times you open the app. There are also other products that can help you with this, like built-in screen time monitors on your devices. In the end, you could try to substitute with a new app that empowers productivity instead.
Adult college students make up anywhere from 35-40 percent of the nation’s current college student population. While adult students have unique needs for flexibility, and many distractions competing for attention, the practical benefits of earning a college degree or certification are also very powerful. Whether you have gone back to school to earn more money or change careers completely, we hope you will continue to visit the Alpha Kappa Psi blog for resources, inspiration, and support along the way.