Because they frequently understate the number of students who return to successfully complete their degree, college dropout rates can be misleading. According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 1 million dropouts went back to school and finished their degrees between 2014 and 2019. Another 1. 1 million students were still working to complete their degree.
college as an adult | going back to college in my late 20’s after dropping out
What to know about going back to school
Remember that you are not alone as you consider returning to school; you may be able to find support and new friends among adult college students. Some schools provide specific resources for older students, such as student groups or specialized orientations that can help you connect with other seasoned students.
You also may have more options than younger students. You can choose classes for your area of expertise and accelerate your path to a degree by having clear goals in mind for your time in college. You can also take electives that will benefit you in other areas of your life. You can reduce your debt load and reduce your tuition costs by working and saving money. You can also cut costs by living off campus.
Returning to college can be very different from going there after just getting out of high school. Although you might not share the same priorities or perspectives as other students, college can still offer you plenty of chances to interact with new people and broaden your horizons.
Why go back to school after dropping out?
Think about why you want to finish your degree as you consider returning to school and whether the financial situation is right. You can overcome obstacles and maintain motivation until you graduate by having a good reason. Here are some explanations for why you might choose to go back to school:
Change of life circumstances
Some students drop out of school to work full-time in order to support themselves, deal with health issues, or take care of family members. If these circumstances have changed, if family members are more independent, or if you can work and save money for tuition and books, it might be time to return.
Advancing in your career
Some professional positions or credentials require a college degree. Take into account the level of satisfaction or potential income that a more advanced position might provide you if you discover that you need a degree to advance in your business or industry. These benefits might make returning to school worthwhile both emotionally and financially.
Earning more money
If you want to make more money, you might decide to go back to school. With positions for college graduates occasionally paying up to twice what high school graduates do, having a college degree can lead to higher paying entry-level jobs and higher paying opportunities at other levels of employment.
Achieving a goal
Gaining a college education can be very fulfilling and beneficial for your personal and professional development. If getting a college degree is something you value, going back to school can frequently be worthwhile for the personal achievement alone.
Tips for going back to school
Here are some tips for a successful return to college:
1. Understand why youre going back
You may be returning to school to complete a specific degree in your field of employment or to acquire the necessary skills for a specific position. Knowing your motivation for returning to school before you begin will help you determine which classes you will require to achieve that objective. Reviewing these motives can help you maintain the drive necessary to complete the degree.
2. Recognize your advantages
Give yourself credit for the life experience and professional expertise you have acquired through your employment. You may possess communication abilities, industry knowledge, or time management abilities that will help you succeed in college courses. Knowing these advantages before you start can help you determine which colleges, degree programs, and course loads are best for your needs.
3. Choose your college carefully
Keep an open mind about what might be right for you as you research your options. You might be able to transfer back to a previous school without having to submit a new application. Other schools might provide a new beginning or a major program that is more suited to your interests. You might consider attending a community college or enrolling in online courses as a less expensive option if you need to take some foundational courses in subjects like English or math.
Online courses can significantly cut down on commute time, and some adult learners may find them more comfortable. For those who reside far from college campuses or from the institutions that offer their program, they can be convenient Taking classes in person might provide more opportunities to network and utilize campus resources. Research the prerequisites for your degree before you start because some degrees require lab or studio work that cannot be done remotely.
4. Collect all admissions materials
Verify that you have all the necessary materials before applying. This may consist of test results from any previous college coursework, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. You could also schedule important application deadlines to ensure that everything is submitted on time.
5. Understand how credits transfer
Make sure you have a transcript and course descriptions from your previous classes, and spend some time learning about the credit transfer policies at your new school. You can do this to make sure you have taken all the required courses and have all the prerequisites for your degree by comparing the classes you have taken to those in the course catalog.
If you have inquiries about the course material, you can also get in touch with the instructors, teaching assistants, or admissions office. If your precise credits don’t transfer, some schools allow you to test out of lower-level math or language classes.
6. Get to know your advisor
Your academic advisor can assist you more if you speak with them frequently. They most likely have department-specific knowledge to assist you in understanding which classes and in what order you should take. You may not be aware of other opportunities your school may provide, such as independent study options or classes offered during the summer or winter breaks, that can help you earn credits for a quicker graduation.
7. Build a community
By informing your family and friends about your new commitment, you can gain support from your current community. They can support you and perhaps even take on some responsibilities to free up your time for schoolwork. By participating in study groups and group projects at college, you can meet other adult students and form a community with them.
8. Consider attending part-time
If you enroll in part-time courses, you may find it easier to balance your studies with full- or part-time employment. If you can take more time or don’t have many credits left, this may even be a viable option for finishing your degree and helping you get used to the college schedule.
9. Fill out the FAFSA
The Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA), also known as the FAFSA, must be completed in order to be considered for some scholarships or tuition assistance programs. Using this form, the government can determine how much it believes you should be able to contribute toward your education as well as the estimated family contribution. The school will then work to provide a payment schedule for the balance. The FAFSA may be able to help you obtain grants and scholarships, depending on your income.
10. Check on your student loans
Check the status of any student loans you may have from earlier college coursework. If you have been making payments or were eligible for a deferral, your loans may be in good standing since loan companies typically start asking for payments six months after you graduate from college. Your student loans that are in default may prevent you from receiving additional financial aid if you have not been making payments. You might be able to postpone student loan repayments once you start back at school until after you graduate.
11. Look for other funding sources
Adult students have access to a variety of scholarships and funding options, such as tuition assistance provided as a job benefit. You can find out if your company offers full or partial tuition assistance by contacting the human resources department of your employer. If you intend to switch jobs or leave one, you might specifically search for places that provide this. Universities occasionally provide employee and family members with tuition discounts. You might find tuition help through the G. I. If you or a family member served in the military, you may be eligible for the bill or related programs.
12. Stay organized
You can use apps or planners to manage your time. With the addition of college courses to your schedule, you can use a calendar app or a paper planner to keep track of your other commitments to family and work alongside class schedules, deadlines, and projects. If you want to maximize the time you spend studying, you might want to think about using productivity or to-do apps.
13. Remember your reason
Keep in mind your motivational factors for returning to college. Consider ways to treat yourself along the way, such as by celebrating with loved ones or friends at the end of each semester. If you continue your job search and share your accomplishments with your boss, you might even discover that your college education can help you work toward a promotion or find a higher-paying position before you graduate.