You know you are not the typical college classmates when you have sons or daughters who have already graduated from college. If your hair is gray and you have lived through many, many high school reunions before deciding to enter or Re-enter College you know that you are in for culture shock or at the very least a stiff challenge. Many people choose to go back to college instead of retiring to earn a degree they desired but never attained or because they wish to do something different with their life now that they have time to explore new ventures. The Badger Herald reported that 3.8 percent of U.S. students were aged 50 or older in an article about Baby boomers going back to college.
In my case I have made the stab at going to college two times before my current bid for the degree. The first time it was soon after being discharged from the U.S. Navy and I was in my twenties. The second attempt at obtaining my bachelor’s degree was when I was in my later forties. Now I am making another hopefully final attempt at completing my Bachelor of Science Degree in Business administration. I know there will be many battles to fight before I see that sought after diploma. I know I am not alone as I return to college while in my fifties. Many college students do not fit the typical “right out of high school” college student. Those of us who are “older” college students can use some tips about how to return to college and achieve a diploma successfully.
A careful search online will reveal many tips about how to go back to college when your kids have already graduated from college. Most of the tips you find are practical and some are obvious. In fact some tips for college success follow the same that you may have given to your own high school aged son or daughter.
An older college student must navigate the same financial waters that younger students do and this requires filling out a FAFSA (FREE Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA is the form used to determine how much income the student’s family is expected to contribute to the cost of the college education. After the form is filled out the tabulated results will determine what the student qualifies for regarding students grants, loans and work-study programs. Federal Pell Grant qualification is made based on the results of the FAFSA as well as other grants offered by Federal programs and state grants offered by colleges and universities. Students must apply for scholarships separate from the FAFSA.
It is important to check with the college or university that you will be attending for important information about available scholarships. Libraries can also be a good source for locating valuable scholarships.
Often an older college student is returning because of a career change or perhaps they are seeking a degree for personal reasons to improve their lifestyle or simply to learn new and exciting things. The reason is important because one way to find success is to know why you are returning to college and what your educational goals are that you will be striving to obtain during your college adventure. Career counseling tests may help you to define your educational goals. If like me, you were unsuccessful at an earlier bid for your degree it is wise to examine what happened so that you can overcome those obstacles and achieve your degree this time around. Your goal may involve earning a certificate, an associate degree, a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree or an Ed.D., Ph.D. or your Doctorate. Your choice of a college or University will depend on your goal, your finances and your ability to attend locally or out of state.
After you have mapped out your educational goals, have selected which college or university you will be attending it will be time to design your academic plan. You will most likely be doing this with the aid of an academic advisor. If attending a physical campus you may wish to attend a campus orientation or open house. If taking classes online you maybe able to take a virtual tour of the online classroom experience.
Your academic plan will need to take into consideration your home life and work life. Older students have obligations to family or work that may need to be taken into consideration when making the academic plan. You may need to continue to work in order to have a steady income while going to school. A spouse or children may count on continued financial support despite the fact that you will be busy studying and attending classes. If your sons and daughters are grown there are still many things to consider while designing your academic plan such as will it be necessary to hire a tutor? How many credit hours can you handle each term? Don’t forget to build in some fun when designing this plan so that your college experience is more than just book learning.
Myself and many older students have discovered how to succeed at going back to college when your kids have already graduated and have found it to be rewarding, fulfilling and when we finally have that diploma in hand, a very gratifying endeavor to have embarked upon.
Back2College.com Going Back to College: Getting Started
The Badger Herald, Baby boomers come back to college http://badgerherald.com/news/2009/01/20/baby_boomers_come_ba.php