Adult Education

It's never too late to get the education you wanted, whether it's finally earning your high school diploma or getting a college degree. Earning a degree can help you build the knowledge and skills you need, increase your confidence, and put you in a better financial position for the future. Going back to school as an adult, however, can pose its own set of challenges.

The biggest challenge is perhaps psychological. You may be afraid of sitting in a classroom filled with students who are all younger than you. You may be afraid that you can't handle the coursework, or that school will just be too hard for you.

There are, of course, some things that can help smooth the transition. If your biggest concern is sitting in a class with younger "kids," perhaps online classes or classes designed specifically for adult students would be a better fit. If you're concerned about the difficulty of the courses, start small: just take one course on an introductory level, in a subject matter you're somewhat comfortable with. This will help get your feet wet, reacquaint you with school and build your confidence.

Another struggle you may encounter comes down to time. If you have children or are working while attending school, you may find that your schedule provides very little free time. Juggling all of your responsibilities can be a challenge. (Check out the Managing Your Time article for tips and advice on time management.) In these cases, it's important to have a support group in place. If you live with others (or even if you don't), ask for help from your family and friends. If they care about you, they will want you to succeed. Ask them to help with housework, chauffering, errands, or whatever else you need help with. Not only will they feel as though they are helping you (and they are), you will also have more time to focus on your school and work schedules. If you don't have a support system already in place, ask around for babysitter referrals, cleaning services, and other services you can hire to help with tasks.

Keep in mind that many community colleges now cater to the adult student. They may offer special guidance programs to help adult students adjust, or support groups so adult students can hep each other. Don't be afraid to ask what kinds of services the school you want to attend offers. They are in business to help you. They want you to succeed. Even if the school itself doesn't offer programs, talk with other adult students in your classes. You can create your own support group and motivate each other to succeed.

Just remember: if you want it, you can achieve it. People just like you go back to school every day. And while it may not always be easy, if you want it enough, you can do it.

Additional Resources