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Top 5 Tips for Adults Returning to School

Creative Commons Image by Meathead Movers
Creative Commons Image by Meathead Movers

Are you planning to return to school as an adult? Whether or not you pursued higher education after your high school graduation, you might be wondering how you’ll manage to juggle your obligations of work, home, marriage and maybe even children with your studies. Here are five tips for adults returning to school.

  1. Make friends with your planner. If you need to balance work, family, school and other obligations, you’re going to need to have a schedule that’s firm but flexible. Write down (in ink!) things like your work hours, the time you need to spend commuting to school or your job, the activities that you need to attend with your children, and the times that you have to be in class. Then pencil in the hours that you expect to study, the times you would like to devote to family time, and the time that you’ll spend cleaning, grocery shopping and attending to other needs. Try to stick to this schedule, but leave enough unplanned time available so you can deal with things that come up.
  2. Get your family on board. If you have a spouse and/or children, it’s important to have their support as you enter this new stage of life. If they seem resistant, explain how going back to school will positively impact both you and them. Let them know whether their responsibilities will change, and listen to their input and concerns, while making it clear that you have made this commitment and will be following through on it.
  3. Find a place to study. Too often, busy moms and dads try to get their schoolwork done at the kitchen table while helping kids with homework or doing chores like cooking dinner or loading the dishwasher. The truth is, you need to dedicate uninterrupted time to your studies in order to succeed. If you don’t have a private home office, then consider leaving your house and working from a library or coffeeshop.
  4. Keep your goals in mind. Remember that the going will probably get tough at some point. Instead of being tempted to throw in the towel, take a good look at your financial and personal goals to help you stay motivated. Prepare yourself beforehand for the stress that is almost inevitable to occur; it’s temporary, and once you get more used to your new routine, it will get easier.
  5. Take care of yourself. Don’t let your self-care go by the wayside. Get enough sleep and be sure that you’re eating well. Don’t skip meals or grab fast food as a matter of habit; make up some salads or cut up fruit during a quiet moment so you can help yourself when you get hungry. If you’re having trouble with your classes, seek out your instructor for help. Take care of yourself the way you would urge your adult child to take care of him- or herself!

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