Returning Student Checklist to Get Back to School
1. Why are you considering returning to school? By focusing on your motivation, you can better determine your career and educational goals. Consider why you want to go to school. Do you want to change careers, increase your earning potential, and/or resume your college education and finish a degree program?
2. Develop a plan to achieve your educational goals. This plan will serve as a guide during your educational career. Do you want to complete your education by a certain date? Do you need to complete some courses (prerequisites) before you can begin the coursework for your chosen career field?
3. Review your plan to determine how it will fit into your lifestyle.
Will your plan allow you enough time for work and leisure activities?
If you have a family, are they supportive of your educational goals?
Will you need childcare for any children?
4. Do you need assistance determining which school is right for you? If so, visit IPEDS College Opportunities On-Line to search schools by degree program. Then, decide which school you wish to attend.
Do any area schools offer the program of study you need to meet your career and educational goals?
Are those classes offered at a time convenient for your work and family schedule?
Does your school offer classes through a distance learning environment?
Many colleges/universities are seeing a greater number of adult students enrolling in their classes. They realize that your schedule and lifestyle is not that of the typical traditional college student. Many offer night and weekend classes, as well as distance learning opportunities, to accommodate the needs of the adult student.
Distance learning programs offer an option for some adults who want to continue or complete an educational program. Classes may be offered via the Internet, television, or other distance learning environments.
5. Determine whether the college or university you\’ve selected will require college entrance examinations.
Do they offer a study group (to prepare for the GRE for example)?
Have you checked with the local public or college library to find out what publications are available?
By finding out what is required and utilizing resources available to prepare for these examinations, your college career will be off to a good start.
6. Determine the cost of education and how you will pay for it. Remember to think about all costs involved in school attendance (including tuition, mandatory fees, optional fees, transportation expenses, books and supplies, food, technical equipment that may be required, etc.). Consider how the cost of education will fit into your budget with your other expenses – such as rent, house payment, car payment, childcare, etc. Consider your options for paying for college:
-Employer tuition reimbursement and loan repayment programs
-Scholarships and grants
-Educational loyalty and affinity programs
-Student loans: If you\’ve applied for gift aid such as grants and scholarships but still need more money to pay for your education, carefully consider federal student loans and, as a last resort, alternative loans.
7. If you have outstanding loans from your previous education, review the opportunities available to you when you return to school, such as postponing your loan payments. If you have a defaulted student loan, you have options if you wish to receive additional financial aid. If you are unsure of the status of your loans, visit our Locating Your Loans page.
8. Complete necessary admissions applications and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Contact the admissions office for the necessary forms to get you admitted and registered for classes. Contact the financial aid office for information on applying for financial aid. Make sure you have all of your paperwork accurately completed and processed on time. This will make the transition into college less stressful. The staff in the admissions and financial aid offices is there to help you, so don\’t hesitate to contact them if you have questions or don\’t understand the process.
9. Attend an orientation session or class at your school. This may help familiarize you with the campus and give you guidance on other decisions you may need to make while continuing your education.
Do they offer an orientation session prior to the start of the semester?
Is a special session offered just for adult students?
Does your college offer a \”Survival Skills 101\” class where you can learn about effective study habits, test taking anxiety, stress management, organizational pointers, etc.?
10. Some schools offer organizations or support groups for adult students. You will be able to meet other students who have similar situations and educational goals. A support group may help you cope as you manage family responsibilities, work, and education.
Does your school have an adult student group?
Do they have a support group for single parents?
Are there organizations related to your major (i.e. Nursing Major Club)?
Have more questions? Contact 2-3 schools listed here in the San Diego Educaiton Consortium website for more info.