Four tips when you’re going back to school as an adult

How to prepare and make your transition smoother

There is a return on investment for both individuals and society when the investment is education.  Whether you are going back to school to get a degree or to increase your skill set you will be investing time and money to gain a future return on this investment. And whether you’re going back full or part time, consider these four things:

1. Is the program manageable for you

Does the program that you are interested in fit your lifestyle and schedule so that you can keep your job so that money is coming in? If you need to keep working while you’re in school, consider:

  • Part-time programs
  • Evening and weekend programs
  • Distance education programs

If you can take time off work to study, consider condensed programs that let you finish faster — but only if you can devote a lot of time outside classes to assigned readings and projects. 

2. Expect an adjustment period

New routines, new relationships, new expectations — these can all be stressful and are likely to hit harder if you haven’t been in school for many years. Give yourself time to adjust. As an adult learner you can bring experience and maturity to the classroom which can allow you to learn faster so don’t be intimidated if it’s been a while since you’ve been in class or if other students are younger than you. It can help to remind yourself why you’re studying. Write down your career and life goals, and be specific about what your educational program will help you accomplish.

3. Get enough sleep

Canadians who feel time-crunched get almost half an hour less sleep every night than Canadians who don’t. Moreover, when pressed for time, almost half of Canadians reduce their sleep time so they can get more done. That’s a health risk since sleep deprivation has been linked to many chronic conditions, including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Build enough time for sleep into your daily schedule to ensure you don’t sacrifice health to meet your career and education goals.

4. Get your finances organized

Education is an investment — sometimes with a significant price tag. If you’re taking time off work, or reducing your hours, you may be managing your usual expenses on less income. Create and stick to a realistic budget. Postpone any large or nonessential purchases and keep your goal insight. 

With a little planning, you can manage the challenges of returning to school and focus on the excitement of starting a new chapter in your life.

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