How to Manage Higher Education as a Working Adult

More and more working adults are choosing to enroll in college degree programs.

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More and more working adults are choosing to enroll in college degree programs. Some of these non-traditional students are continuing their education to improve their earning power. Other adults are pursuing a degree that will allow them to work in a field they love. Still, others are pursuing a master’s degree on top of prior education.

All these adults are following a common dream: a college education. These adult students also share a common understanding. They know they need to obtain their education while continuing to work.

Succeeding as a working adult student

Working adults can be highly successful students. These students know how to manage their time wisely. They clearly understand college costs, finance their education carefully, and practice appropriate self-care. They also realize their degree timeline is flexible.

Still, going back to school as a working adult is a daunting task. If you’re in this boat and are finding yourself overwhelmed, here are a few tips to help you succeed. 

Manage your time wisely

Time management is a critical skill for any working adult. These students occasionally find themselves rushing to finish assignments, which can lead to serious academic difficulties. Prevent these situations with effective time management.

Some adult students may be unaware of the study time required for a college course. In general, simple classes require two hours of study for each hour spent in class, and classes of moderate difficulty call for three. Four hours may be necessary for complex classes requiring labs, or extensive reading or research. Successful working students only schedule the classes they have time for.

Employed adult learners have numerous demands on their time. Focusing on time management can help reduce stress in their daily lives.

Clearly understand the price of your college education

Students can avoid being sidelined in their education by correctly understanding the tuition and other costs involved in a college education. Resources like CollegeData can help explain the various costs involved in a college education.

Although the cost may seem overwhelming, scholarships and grants can help. Knowing the particulars of financing a college education can help a working student stay on track with their education.

Finance your college education prudently

The first step in effectively financing a college education is discovering if the student qualifies for a federal grant. Information about federal financial aid is available on the federal student aid website. Students can investigate state, local, and school scholarships by contacting their college’s financial aid department.

Scholarship finders assist students from all walks of life in locating scholarships. Students can enter their area of study, GPA, the location of their school, and other information to find scholarships available to them.

The federal student aid site also provides students with information about eligibility for federally-funded student loans. Federal aid applications include eligibility for both grants and loans. Federally funded student loans are often useful in providing education opportunities to students. Students should avoid using private loans to pay for college.

Practice appropriate self-care

Self-care is just as important as studying, but working-adult students often skip this critical point, thinking they don’t have time. Making time for self-care, however, will pay off with less stress.

Effective self-care can be as simple as a few moments of mindfulness or as complex as a weekend trip. Adult students need to be intentional about finding types of self-care that they enjoy and can fit into their busy lives.

Realize that your timeline is flexible

Every working adult understands that life events present themselves when least expected. Work projects, family emergencies, and more can all wreak havoc on a class schedule. Learning to work around these temporary issues is an essential skill for any college student.

If a student needs to take a semester away from studies for any reason, they need to focus on being flexible and not getting down on themselves for the break. It’s not a race to see who can get a college degree first. By being willing to take a brief break from school if needed, adult students will be more likely to succeed long-term.

Succeeding in education and work

Education is an investment in the rest of your life. For students who need to simultaneously work full-time, obtaining that education requires careful planning and a great deal of dedication. By applying these strategies and tips, non-traditional students can both survive and thrive in college.

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