Back to School: Managing the Logistics of Being an Adult College Student
If you’ve decided to restart your education after years or decades, you might wonder how being a student again is going to fit into the life that you already have. Whether you’ll be juggling a job and your family with your studies or you’ll be focusing just on going to school full time, there are big changes ahead for you. You can manage this shift, especially since it’s in the service of something as life-changing as returning to college for an undergraduate or graduate degree, but some careful planning ahead of time will make it easier.
What Will Change?
How you adjust has to do in part with what your life is currently like and what challenges you will face. If you are single and live alone and are giving up a relatively well-paying job to be a full-time student, you will need to budget and think twice before spending money on takeout, a new outfit or a vacation. If you’ve got a spouse, kids and a full-time job, you’ll need to talk to your family and perhaps your work about creating a schedule that will allow you to focus on school. Whatever the changes will be, you need to articulate them specifically so that you understand what challenges you will face.
Managing Your Work
The second-best situation to being able to focus on school without working at all is one in which your employer is specifically sending you back to school. This means your workplace is more likely to be flexible and accommodating around your schoolwork. If neither of these is the case, you’ll need to strategize how to best manage your situation based on the specifics. If you are taking classes outside of work hours, it may be best to not mention it at all, particularly if the classes are training you for a different line of work. On the other hand, if the coursework is related to your job, it could show your employer that you are dedicated and ambitious.
Managing Your Money
Money is often one of the main obstacles that prevents people from returning to school, but it doesn’t have to be. Some employers will pay for some or all of employees’ tuition. In addition to any federal aid you might be eligible for, you can also look into private loans. If you’ve got a good credit score, private loans might even offer more favorable interest rates than a federal loan. Scholarships are another possibility, and some might be specifically aimed at nontraditional students.
Managing the People in Your Life
If you have a family who is accustomed to you doing the cooking, yard work, laundry or chauffeuring, they might need to start picking up some of the slack. You may want to sit down for a family meeting and talk about how you will divide chores. You’ll also need to get them to agree to give you quiet time for studying at home or find a place, such as the library, where you can go to do schoolwork without interruption.