10 Tips for Returning Adult Students

“Non-traditional-aged students bring motivation and maturity to the classroom. They are often not afraid to ask questions or seek an instructor’s help,” said Becky McIntosh, vice president for Student Affairs at Piedmont Technical College. 

“Coming back to school is a big decision that comes with great rewards,” said McIntosh. “Students can expect to be pleasantly surprised by being open to all sorts of new opportunities, challenges, ideas and points of view.”

Here are a few tips for adults getting ready to return to the classroom: 

1. Consult with advising professionals to review your goals and plan a course of study.

Advisors will help you understand if past college credential and or work experience can apply toward your goal.  Consider the following questions: why do you want to return to college… how will college help personally, professionally and financially…are you ready…what is your commitment level…are on campus or online classes best for you? 

2. Expect to see students with similar goals in class.

You are not alone in considering college after working for several years. A large percentage of PTC students are non-traditional (over the age of 25). For all the work that college requires, most of them love it.

3. Scan the employment environment.

It's helpful to know your current marketability and understand what skills employers are looking for in their employees today. Capitalize on current areas of need. 

4. Do something you love.

Doing something you love is equally important. Selecting something you truly have an interest in is intrinsically rewarding.

5. Ensure a good fit.

Investigate the requirements for a career choice and see if it fits your interests, abilities and needs. If changing career fields, identify the transferable skills you already possess.

6. Have a support system in place.

Identify who you can count on for moral support. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

7. Assess yourself academically.

Depending on your length of absence from college and the course you are about to study, you need to reassess your skills via placement test. Don’t let this stop you. PTC offers classes at all levels. 

8. Consider financial aid and explore scholarship opportunities.

The first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) available at fafsa.gov. Don’t miss out on valuable opportunities including scholarships. 

9. Consider online classes.

If you are concerned about returning to a traditional classroom environment, or are worried your schedule cannot accommodate going back to school, consider online classes. This flexible learning approach offers advantages for your busy schedule. PTC also offers hybrid classes which combine the best of in-class and online learning.

10. Realize how much you already know.

The prior experience and knowledge you bring as a returning adult student will benefit your college experience and your classmates.


*Adapted from CareerFocus Magazine