College preparation for adult students
It’s a decision that many adults struggle with every day: Should I go back to school? If your answer is “Yes!” here are five steps you can take to make your return to college as smooth and painless as possible.
Step 1: Find your goal
This first step could be the most difficult. Once you’ve decided that you want or need more education as an adult, college can offer a myriad of possibilities – and that in itself is a challenge: you need to determine. what to study.
Samantha Beltran, admissions counselor at National University, says now is the time to weigh all your options. She estimates that three in four adult students who return to school have taken at least some college courses. Many decide that what they originally studied is no longer relevant to them.
“Most of the mature students we talk to, and I talk to a lot of them, want to try something new,” she says.
While returning to college as an adult presents challenges, Beltran says an advantage of mature students is that they already know their interests, skills, and the type of career they would like to pursue.
“A lot of 19-year-olds coming out of high school,” she says, “are taking general education classes to figure that out.”
Step 2: Online or on campus?
Most adult learners are juggling a job, some are looking after families, and others have just left the service and are re-acclimating to civilian life. For these mature students, flexibility is all. So more of them, according to Beltran, are choosing online colleges and earning a online degree.
“Flexibility is one of the advantages of taking online classes over physical classes,” she says. “A lot of adults don’t have the time to spend a full day on a physical campus going from class to class.”
This does not mean that all online colleges are created equal.
Fortunately, there are online resources like the Higher Education Accreditation Council (CHEA) website that can show you which schools have been regionally accredited and which ones you are likely to want to avoid.
Step 3: look back to look forward
Once you’ve chosen a college or university, the next step is to document where you’ve been and what you’ve already accomplished – it’s time to gather your transcripts. While it sounds simple, it often isn’t.
“Sometimes this process takes a while,” Beltran says. “This includes high school transcripts and any college courses or transcripts.”
Admissions counselors like Beltran can often find hidden gems in a transcript that can provide a head start towards graduation. Things like AP courses and passing the CLEP test can give you college credit for what you’ve already accomplished.
“We don’t want you to lose what you are entitled to,” she said.
Step 4: Don’t let life get in your way
Now it’s time to apply. Another benefit of applying to National is that your application will remain on file for one year.
“So you have all this year to really focus on everything else,” says Beltran. “Then you can plan your lessons and you will be off to a good start.”
Whether you boot up your laptop or hit the campus, once you start class your new student life begins. But that doesn’t mean your old life is ending. Now the challenge is to find enough hours in the day to accomplish whatever it is you need to do. Beltran admits it’s never easy, but says the key is to Stay focused on your long term goals.
“Life is always going to get in your way, but you have to make time for school,” she says.
“One of the things I always talk to students about is motivation. For some, their motivation is to be an example to their children. If you are doing it for your children, it must be a priority. “
This motivation can be particularly important for adults wishing to earn a Graduate Diploma. But at least they’re usually not surprised by the workload.
“A lot of graduate students know what they’re getting into,” Beltran says. “They know it will be a little more difficult, that there may be more writing, but they are used to it and they are ready to do this work.”
Step 5: Log in to be successful
Whichever college you choose, whether it’s an accredited online college or a traditional campus, it’s important that mature students feel connected. This is one of the most important things in determining your success.
“You’ll see in many physical universities where this connection is pretty, well, sparse,” Beltran says. “But National developed this format online, so we’re working really hard to be responsive to make it as easy as possible.”
Like just about everyone at National University, Samantha Beltran knows what she’s talking about firsthand. She went to college right out of high school and began to study nursing. But after two years, she moved on to major in literature. She admits it was a pretty drastic change.
Then, after years in the workforce, she took these five steps and returned to earn a Masters in Educational Administration.
“The reason I did it was because I found that I really enjoyed working with students,” she says. “I like to know their motivation.”
If you are motivated to go to college as an adult and want to start your college preparation journey, learn more about the college first. many online and campus programs offered at the National University. We invite you to speak to one of our advisors and explore your options. You are ready – good luck!