Tips for Returning Adult Students

Changing careers in today's economy can often mean it is necessary to return to college and gain new skills to prepare for the evolving marketplace. As such, community colleges are often the first place to which career changers turn for assistance.

Increasingly, Carroll's administrators and faculty members are reaching out to returning adult students with reassuring advice for them to comfortably return to the classroom. Review their advice in our Top Ten Tips  for preparing to return to college.

Other administrators and faculty members also echo these sentiments.

"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 Dr. James Ball, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs. "We encourage students to perform an academic self-assessment so they may better understand how past college credentials combined with work experience will prepare them for returning to the classroom."

"Coming back to school is a big decision that means breaking away from an existing lifestyle," said Robert Young, chair, department of Humanities. "Students can expect to be pleasantly surprised by being open to all sorts of new opportunities, challenges, ideas and points of view. And while they are here, they should concentrate on enjoying 'the now' and refrain from worrying about the end result - they will find it is just what they hoped for."

Top Ten Tips

  1. Consult with college admissions and advising professionals to utilize the academic exploration process -  why do you want to return to college, how will college help both personally and financially, are you ready and what is your commitment level.  
    Dr. Michael Kiphart, dean of Student Affairs
  2. Expect to see similar students with similar goals, like yourself, in your classes. You are not alone in considering college after working for several years. A large percentage of Carroll students are non-traditional students. For all the work that college requires, most of them love it.
    Kristine DeWitt, director of Transfer and Articulation
  3. Scan the employment environment and know your marketability. Capitalize on current areas of need. For example, green consulting, which consists of making recommendations to home and business owners on ways to save heating and cooling costs, is a new employment trend based on the needs of the environment and corporate sensibilities.
    Steven Geppi, dean of the division of Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences

    In addition to capitalizing on workforce needs, doing something you love is equally important. Selecting something in which you truly have an interest is intrinsicly rewarding. 
    Anne Davis, chair, Department of Science
  4. 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 possess. 
    Barbara Gregory, coordinator of Career Development
  5. 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. 
    Kristie Crumley, director of Student Life
  6. Assess yourself academically. Depending on your length of absence from a college and the course you are about to study, you need to be willing to reassess your skills via placement tests  or retake the last successfully completed course if you are not  prepared to return at the same skill level when you left. 
    Robert Brown, chair, Department of Mathematics
  7. Create balance in your life. You have multiple demands on your time and doing well in college takes time. Eliminate unnecessary commitments, and get in the habit of learning something new every day. 
    Siobhan Wright, chair, Department of English
  8. Consider financial aid . The first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Our Financial Aid office provides workshops and personal assistance for federal and state financial aid as well as scholarships . Check with a financial aid advisor for application procedures and, most importantly, deadlines so you don't miss out on valuable opportunities.
    Lori Henry, director of Financial Aid
  9. Investigate taking online classes. If you are concerned about returning to a traditional classroom environment, or are worried your schedule cannot accommodate going back to school, then consider online classes . This flexible learning approach offers advantages for your busy schedule. 
    Scott Gore, chair, Fine and Performing Arts
  10. Realize how much you already know. The prior experience and knowledge you bring, as an returning adult student, will benefit your college experience. Before starting college, think about the type of work that appeals to you and why. Remember, college is not just for 18-to-22- year- olds. In fact, the best students often have real world experience and younger students enjoy sharing the classroom with them.
    Kate Demarest, chair, Department of Business and Information Technology

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