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Tips For Adults Going Back to College

Adult returning to college

Tips For Adults Going Back to College

Adults face a lot of responsibilities on a day-to-day basis, whether they’re balancing complex finances, raising children, working long hours to make ends meet, and keeping relationships strong. With all of these responsibilities on the proverbial plate of life, going back to college can seem next to impossible.

But for those busy adults who choose to become even busier by going back to school (or by going to school for the first time)—we salute you. College courses might take up every last second of free time and every spare dollar you have, but the final result is worth it.

In this blog, the CLEP study guide experts at SpeedyPrep will give adult learners some tips to help smooth the transition to college life, and provide advice that will help adults achieve learning permanence and academic success.

adult learnerFind the right college atmosphere.

While traditional college students typically make the journey to a brand new place for college as a coming-of-age adventure, adults are usually more deeply rooted in their local area because of a job (or the job of a spouse), kids, or other community or familial obligations. Adult learners are also more inclined to choose schools and degree programs that provide a large selection of online courses, as well as parent-friendly services like on-campus childcare.

But tuition costs are probably the biggest factor that determines where adults go to school. While traditional students in this day and age are (unfortunately) taking out hefty student loans without much thought about the financial implications of those loans, adults are a bit more concerned with how college can fit into their everyday budget without too many loans or too much negative financial impact.

For adult learners, it’s crucial to find a school and degree program that best fit into your budget and lifestyle without making too many drastic changes. It’s also important to find schools that are adult-friendly—for example, smaller schools with more accessible professors and a diverse college demographic are often a better fit for adults than universities with large class sizes and party-centered cultures. Hard work and dedication is essential for academic success—but if you don’t put yourself in the right atmosphere, you could be setting yourself up for failure before your classes begin.

Develop a studying routine.

If you’re going to get good grades and succeed in a college atmosphere, you’re going to have to hit the books and do some serious studying. Many traditional college students work part-time or have no jobs at all, and have plenty of free time left for studying. (Do they use that time for studying? We’ll never know for sure.) Adult learners have many more responsibilities that eat up free time, which can make studying (and college success) a challenge.

If you’re an adult learner, you must set aside a specific time during the day to study. Build it into your schedule, and avoid distractions and other obligations while you’re digging into course material. If you’re a parent, get your kids involved in activities during your study time—take them to the pool or rec center, sign them up for a community art or music class, or pass them off to the spouse for a while.This will keep your kids preoccupied while you focus on building knowledge, completing assignments, and preparing for tests.

That’s it for part 1 of our series on tips for adults going back to college. Stay tuned for part 2 of our series, and check out our other blog posts in the meantime!


  • You’ve got great tips for those of us who want to go back to college. I like how you said that I need to find a place that is more family-friendly than most college atmospheres. I’ll probably be taking my kids sometimes, so that’s important!

  • I really loved the tip you gave to develop good study habits. My wife is going back to school, and I know she struggles with studying. I will be sure to try and help her develop good study patterns, so she can be successful.

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