College Leave: How to Turn an Absence into an Asset

Posted March 06, 2015 by
Ryan Hickey

Ryan Hickey, Managing Editor of Peterson’s & EssayEdge

You’ve just spent eight or 10 hours at your job, and now you’re planning on spending your evening studying or going to class. Coping with the pressure can be hard, but returning to college after spending time in the workforce doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Follow these tips to help you pave the way to furthering your education and getting the job you’ve always dreamed of.

1. Don’t concentrate on your age. Age is just a number, so they say, and this is especially true when it comes to your education. No matter what the voice in the back of your head may say, you’re never too old to advance your education. Your worldly experience can pay off in dividends if you let it work for you instead of against you. And never focus on when or how old you’ll be when you graduate. Instead, focus on the benefits your degree will give you.

2. Update your skills, but don’t be afraid to try something new. If you’ve always done accounting but have a passion for marketing, go for it. If you’ve lost your job and are considering a degree to explore other career choices, be sure to carefully check job growth opportunity in your chosen field. No matter what, make sure you’ll be happy when you graduate and land that dream job.

3. Prioritize your life. When you’re juggling home life, family, work, studying and more, it can get to be too much. Take it day by day and do your best to balance everything out. Remember that this is a finite time in your life, and when you’re done, you’ll be able to provide more for yourself and your family.

4. Set realistic short- and long-term goals. Look at what your long-term goals are, and identify how to get there. If, for example, you want to graduate with as little debt as possible, you’ll need to find as many scholarships and grants as you can possibly qualify for. You could also total up your current debt and work out a payment plan based on your current and goal income.

5. Don’t overthink the time needed to graduate. It will likely take you longer than a traditional student to graduate, but don’t occupy your mind with comparisons. Instead, focus on your long-term goals and how your degree is going to benefit your future. Go at your own pace and keep your life balanced between school, family, and work.

6. Use your experience to your advantage. The biggest advantage you have over your younger school chums is your experience. Chances are that the experiences you gained in the workforce have seen you to some measure of success. It’s only a matter of refocusing those experiences into your education and putting what you know to work for you in the classroom. It can not only give you a boost in your confidence, but put you on the right track to securing your future.

Following these tips is a great way to get started on the right track to a better education. All it takes is dedication and focus. You’ve already worked in the “real world,” and those skills and experiences are now ready for you to apply to your education. Make it work for you, not against you.

By Ryan Hickey, Managing Editor of Petersons & EssayEdge

About the Author

Ryan Hickey is the Managing Editor of Peterson’s & EssayEdge and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.

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