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5 Tips for Going Back to School as a Working Adult

By DeVry University

May 7, 2020

4 min read

Going back to school as an adult can be a life-changing experience – in the best way. Pursuing an education can be fulfilling, help you sharpen your skills and grow as a person and leader. Additionally, workers with advanced educations can earn more than their counterparts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with a master’s degree earn almost double the amount of those with only a high school diploma while those with a bachelor’s degree earn 64% more on average.

The benefits of higher education don’t stop there. In addition to learning skills that you can apply in your career, studies show that earning a college degree can also increase your job satisfaction, improve your health and increase your likeliness to give back to your community.

With all of these factors in mind, you may still be asking yourself, "Should I go back to school?" To help you gain perspective on this decision, we've put together a handy guide for going back to school, specifically for adults who are already managing busy schedules.

1. Choose a Flexible Program That Suits Your Lifestyle

Going back to school is a large endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. Gone are the days when attendance in classrooms during working hours was critical to the academic experience. Higher education has evolved, and institutions have adapted with it.

From 100% online to hybrid programs, many universities offer the ability to pursue the right format for your lifestyle and time commitments. Before enrolling, students considering going back to school should take the time to find a program that allows them to best balance their home and professional lives with their studies.

For example, online degree programs might better suit a busy professional, whereas on-campus programs might work better for those who want a deeper sense of community and a more structured schedule.

2. Master Your Time Management

Stand-out students tend to have one skill in common: excellent time management. Whether you’re interested in online or classroom education, developing time management skills will go a long way toward making your educational pursuits less stressful and more rewarding. Before enrolling, consider working on the following key time management skill sets:

  • Practice setting deadlines.

  • Manage and overcome procrastination.

  • Prioritize tasks according to their importance.

  • Start and finish projects early.

  • Avoid needless multitasking.

3. Choose a Program That Teaches Practical Skills

If you have already started your career, you might be most interested in a program that teaches you practical, real-world skills that can be applied to your job right away.

Consider looking for a program that helps you develop your understanding of technology, enhance your business acumen, build your leadership potential and improve your presentation skills—all of which can be applied in your professional life while you’re still attending school.

4. Boost Your Tech Skills

With online learning and distance education becoming increasingly popular, it’s important that adult students brush up on their technical skills before enrolling. A recent report found that 6.3 million students in the United States alone have taken at least one online course—and this figure is rising every year.

To keep up with a changing educational environment, it’s crucial that adult students teach themselves the following basic tech skills before going back to school:

  • Computer literacy (Mac and Windows environments).

  • Word processing (such as Microsoft Office suite).

  • Working knowledge of web and cloud computing environments.

In a modern world, higher ed and high tech are becoming increasingly intertwined. It’s common for adult students to collaborate on projects, submit assignments and take part in online seminars and courses via their computers. To prepare yourself for these virtual scenarios, take some time to familiarize yourself with the necessary technologies.

5. Think About Your Major

Choosing your major or specific concentration is one of the most important steps that you can take before enrolling as an adult learner. Whether you want to study businesstechnology or healthcare, selecting your major can help you better align your education with your passions, career goals and work history.

Consider looking into whether the school you’re interested in offers advisors to help you decide on an appropriate major.

Back to School for Adults: Where to Start

Adults going back to school can earn more, on average, than their peers without degrees, and also report higher levels of job satisfaction. Though the statistics tell one story, the truth is that every individual’s career journey is unique. If yours includes the desire to work toward a degree, these tips can help you prepare for what’s to come.

Interested in learning more about degree and certificate programs offered by DeVry?

Explore our programs  >

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