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8 Things You Must Do When Re-Entering College

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7. Establish a Study Routine That Is Realistic with Your Schedule.

I went from working two full-time jobs to both working and attending college full-time. I assumed that with the extra eight hours a day I could easily find the time to attend class and study. That was a bad assumption. I soon found that study time wasn't something you could just squeeze in here and there during pockets of free time between classes or between work and class. It is vitally important to sit down and make a schedule that includes time for class, work, study, unwinding (very important), eating and sleeping. I suggest scheduling a solid two to three hour block a day for study. You need time to really dig in with focus and determination.

8. Decide Where You Want to Finish and Plan Backwards.

In my experience, the single most important way to achieve success as a returning student is developing a strategy to meet your specific goal. Before investing the time, energy and money into returning to school, ask yourself, "What do I want to accomplish?" Understanding that college graduates on average earn more than non-graduates is a great starting point. But you need real plans to become part of that higher earning group. Deciding on a career will help you select the major you want to pursue. From there you should look at all of the available programs or your school's current semester offerings. Using the course catalogue as a guide, plan out a rough outline of your entire college career (which course you will need to take each semester until graduation). This will serve as your educational plan.

From there you will need to be on top of registration to make sure you get each class you want each semester. Understanding that you are unlikely to get every class you want each semester you should also develop a backup plan – the classes that you will take in lieu of the courses you want should they not be available. Academic advisers will help you create the educational plan but this typically only goes as far as what courses to take. Planning for the dates and times the courses are offered, and working that into your schedule, is research you need to do.

I recall the months before returning to college being filled with anxiety and doubt. The first few months back didn't see a great decrease in doubt. But over time I felt more comfortable in the college classroom and soon found that it was where I belonged. I hope that the lessons I learned can help those dealing with similar challenges.

Kevin Erdman is a professional freelance writer, marketer, and higher education training coordinator. He graduated from Arcadia University after returning to school following a four-year absence.

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