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Ten Tips for Adults Heading Back to School

Ten Tips for Adults Heading Back to School

Elissa Williams | Divine Caroline

As a person who returned to school at age thirty-five, with three teenagers, worked a full-time job, and earned a physics degree, I understand what it’s like for the older student who chooses to go back to school. I learned many things along the way.

My best advice is to ask questions, read the catalog, research grants and scholarships available to you, then ask more questions. Below are just a few things to think about and consider when making your decisions.

1) Attitude is everything: If you charge right in, eager to learn, and you are willing to put forth the effort it takes, succeeding at school is possible. You are only as old as your attitude. Don’t let other people’s attitudes influence yours. You can do this. Ask questions in class. Ask questions after class. Your professors, for the most part, will appreciate your effort.

2) Childcare and dorms: Some colleges offer childcare and living quarters for single mothers, such as Wilson College in Chambersburg , PA. Through our experiences, my kids and I have found that renting an apartment is almost always cheaper than staying in the dorms. When making decisions regarding your living arrangements, be sure to ask about mandatory freshman cafeteria plans if you are going to stay on campus. These can usually be waived if you live close to campus.

3) Online courses: Many accredited state universities offer online courses for a variety of subjects. My children and I have taken several of these types of classes at the University of North Alabama. If you take an online course with plans to go on to a four- year university, be sure to ask the admissions office of the university you are planning to attend if the credit is transferable so that you are not throwing your money away.

4) Ask Google: Search the web for grants and scholarship opportunities according to your situation. There’s a SMART grant for science majors, a TEACH grant for education majors. Pell grants are also available if you meet income qualifications.

5) Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov: Read everything and apply early. If you plan to attend in the fall, apply now. As soon as you get your taxes filled out, go to the website and fill out the FAFSA. You will need to have your tax documents available when you fill out the application. If you need assistance, use the online help at their website. You can also inquire at the Financial Aid Office of any college. Make an appointment to see them and discuss available funding opportunities.

Next Page: Read the school’s catalog →



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At DivineCaroline, you’ll be spending time with women who embrace the fact that life isn’t always easy or beautiful or fair. Our dream is to give you a place to come together to express yourselves. What brings you joy. What breaks your heart. Makes you giggle. What pisses you off. Confuses you. Entertains you. What keeps you strong. Check them out here!


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