Returning to College after Taking Time Off

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  • Whether it’s the lucky ones who’ve done the gap year the millennial way by traveling around the world …,

    … or you’ve simply had to take a break to work for your tuition, life rarely offers a linear path to most of us, and college students of any age are no exception.

    There are those who simply wanted to take a breather and then go back with more enthusiasm to graduate, or others who has a family emergency and now need to find their way back into the college mindset.

    No matter who you are, if you’re looking for a way to continue your education as painlessly as possible, here are a few tried and tested tips based on the experience of those who have been in your shoes.

    Define your purpose

    Whatever might have caused your college break, just before you spread your study wings once again, it’s best to figure out your current position and define the core motivators behind your return. Answering key questions can help you start: Are you looking to advance in your career? Are you aiming for a raise? Do you want to enrich your current portfolio with a different set of skills? Are you looking to completely change your professional path?

    These and many other questions serve to clarify your purpose, because if you simply go back and roam aimlessly while you try out a bunch of different things, you might end up exactly where you were before – leaving college. On the other hand, no matter how tough certain setbacks may be, as long as you have a purpose, you’ll have motivation to keep going.

    Pinpoint your milestones

    Now that you have your purpose well-defined and understood, how are you going to achieve your goals? This is where planning becomes essential for your road ahead, because exams and assignments are just some pieces of an otherwise enormous college puzzle. Your milestones should include all those subjects and courses you need to take to achieve your main goal, and you can then dissect them further by assessing which ones will take the most time to complete, and what steps you need to take.

    Every program is designed to fuel a certain profession, and you need to make sure that the ones you’ve chosen are in line with that you wish to achieve. Perhaps your future or current job requires only a bachelor’s degree, while others insist on specific specialization courses. Therefore, it’s wise to stay informed and thus make informed decisions.

    Choose your delivery system

    Thanks to the ever-growing digital era, you are now able to take many courses online and never step inside an actual lecture room, especially if your living circumstances have changed since your last visit. This allows you time to work and resume your life almost as usual, while you create your own schedule of classes. Such a system works for many people already in a career lane, while others might still need to attend lectures, oral and written exams on the spot, etc.

    If you aim to become a medical professional, your courses will require some level of practice, so you will definitely need to find the time for both the practical and the informational portion of your program. There are evening colleges, flexible schools and other varieties as well, so stay in the loop before you make up your mind.

    Learn beyond learning

    Not everyone is thrilled at the idea of tackling a whole range of unknown subject matter every day. And while many still choose to cope with the challenges as they come along, others can get a head start and get acquainted with the way a college works. For instance, newcomers have been known to go through Griffith assessment notes and learn about how past students managed their workloads, from the best ways to take notes, to having an inside peek at an actual past exam.

    If you’re more of a one-on-one person, then you can always reach out to some of the students from the most recent generations who graduated from the same courses you intend to take, and get first-hand guidance.

    Build a support system

    Know your abilities and your limitations – that will define how well you will cope with challenges that you’re bound to come across. That means you will need to be able to recognize those particularly tough conundrums you’ll need help to battle.

    There’s a whole slew of advisors, guidance counselors and instructors you can talk to and ask for advice and help when you encounter a complex issue. Then again, if you’re dealing with a personal problem, perhaps a conversation with a supportive friend will help, or you can find a professional therapist, so that you can find an effective way to manage your issues without affecting your education.

    Education is a rewarding, but obstacle-ridden experience that will test even best among you. So when you set your heart on a goal, make sure you have all the information and support ready, because your return to college can be the investment that changes the outcome of your professional success.

    Off-to-College reference:

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