Going Back to School: A Guide to Finishing What You’ve Started

So, you’ve decided that you want to go back to college.  Going back to school can be challenging or intimidating for many adults.  You have new priorities—kids, a full-time job.  You also have bigger expenses.  You haven’t been in a classroom in years and are afraid you won’t fit in.  Whether you are looking to advance your current career or expand your horizons to a new one, know that you are not alone.  Of the 20 million people pursuing college degrees today, over 8 million students are over age 25.

Right now, you may be apprehensive about being thrown into a classroom with a bunch of fresh-faced high school graduates.  Will you pick up where you left off?  Are you still a strong note-taker?  Perhaps you are concerned about how you are going to attend your college courses and still manage to work enough hours to compensate for them.   These are common worries to have when going back to school, but the fact that you are motivated enough to take a next step in your education is truly your advantage.

Going back to school as an adult is becoming the norm.  As an adult, you have more self-knowledge, more professional experience, and a better sense of your long-term goals than you did years ago.  You have had time to think about where you want to go and what you want to do in life.  Still, the question remains, where do you start?

There are many steps you should take before entering your first college course.  As a leading career-focused college in Connecticut, Goodwin has compiled 7 steps to guide you on how to go back to school.

  1. Identify your goals and reasons for going back to school. The first thing you should do before enrolling in a school is establish goals. What do you want to accomplish?  Why does this make most sense for your career?  How many years do you want to attend college?  What is your goal grade point average?  By focusing on your motivations, you can better define your objectives.
  2. Decide on the school and degree program that makes the most sense for you. Ask yourself what you want to do in the future.  Do you want to become a nurse, or do you want to open your own business?  This will help guide you the school and degree program that you choose.  There are many options, from four-year liberal arts institutions to accelerated degree programs at vocational or career-focused colleges.
  3. Consider the class structure that will fit best with your schedule. You’re a busy individual – you may have a job, a family, a pet to take care of, bills to pay, groceries to be bought.  You may be thinking; how can I ever balance all this with school?  Today, there are colleges that offer flexible programs and course schedules to meet your individual needs.  At Goodwin College for example, you can finish a degree part-time or full-time, and take classes in hybrid, online, or accelerated formats.  Here, courses are offered during the day, in the evening, and even on weekends.   At Goodwin, classes begin six times each year, meaning we are ready to get started when you are.
  4. Make an appointment with an admissions counselor or student services. Speaking with a professional at the college can help you to navigate your way through the admissions and application process.  Starting this conversation will also start to build your support network at the college you choose.  An admissions counselor or academic advisor can help you through any difficulties such as getting financial aid, re-enrollment and transferring credit, inflexible class scheduling, poor study skills.  They can also counsel you in career direction and help you create an academic plan.
  5. Request your transcripts from any previous colleges you attended or your high school. By talking to an admissions counselor, you can determine which and how many college or high school credits are applicable to your new educational path.  Once you have an understanding of this, you should request any transcripts of hard-earned credits that can be turned into a degree.   If you’re looking to transfer in credits to Goodwin College, it’s easy.  Click here to learn more.
  6. Prepare financially or seek financial aid services. Ask about the financial aid and services available to you.  Most colleges offer grants, loans, scholarships, and work study opportunities for those students who need help paying for supplies and tuition.
  7. Leverage your motivations to succeed. Your personal and professional experience as an adult makes you a true asset to any college you attend.  Your desire to go back to school shows how motivated you are to learn, grow, and succeed.

Finishing what you’ve started can really pay off.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who hold a bachelor’s degree earn 70 percent more than those with a high school diploma alone.

Want to learn more about Goodwin College in CT?  For those who want to finish their Bachelor’s degree in 12 months full-time, consider our customizable Professional Studies program.  For those over age 55, check out Goodwin’s adult continuing education program for free course offerings.  For more information on how to get started, call us at