Five tips for returning students

Back at school? Regardless of your reason for taking a break from school (short or long career, caring for children or parents, travel, previous disconnect to academics), you are ready to go. Congratulations.

Five Tips for Returning Students

Follow these tips which will help to make your time in school a success.

  1. Find your cohort.  

Although it may seem that you are alone among a group of 20-somethings, you are not the only “older” student. Find others, share your stories, and bond over coffee and laughter. Can’t find them? Ask the Dean of Students for guidance.

2.   Read the instructions. 

Make your own road map:  Read the catalog. Learn your institution’s rules. Find the Dean of Students’ office. Know where the Registrar works. Find the Library and make friends with the Reference staff. Read and re-read the syllabus for every class. Enter all of the relevant dates onto your calendar.

3.    Identify your strengths.

You have chosen this course of study for a reason. Your life and work experience will enhance your ability to participate in discussions and to do good work.

4.    Know your limitations.

Just because you are “older” does not mean that you have all the answers. In addition to learning from professors, you will be learning from younger classmates. They have a wealth of knowledge that you don’t know. Listen and learn.

5.  Be prepared to learn (or re-learn) how to learn.  

If your previous academic experiences are more than five years old, you have come to a new teaching and learning environment. Pencil? Paper? Maybe not as efficient as they used to be. Tablet? Hyperlinks? Group projects? All part of the new world of learning.

Should you find yourself struggling, ask for help right away.

****Susan Gainen has created a suite of programs for law students that can be sponsored by student groups, career or alumni offices or deans of students: Alternative Careers, Second Career Law Students, Professionalism Has Attached, Job Search Skills = Business Development Skills, Job Search Outside of OCI: The Forever Skill (unless you are a Ground-Hog-Day-2L). Her program, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th careers: Concrete steps for a life-changing process, is designed for returning students at any college level.  In addition to 25 years of career development activity (headhunter, law school career development, consultant), she is an artist. Her creativity workshops include “Open Your Heart and Close Your Wallet: Watercolor Postcards for Thrifty Travelers,””Watching Paint Dry Can Be Fun: A conversation about creativity,” and “The Lost Cave Paintings of Saint Paul: Create your cave with gesso.”

About susangainen

Whimsical Wildlife Documentarian. Abstract Painter. Writer. Teacher. Explorer.
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1 Response to Five tips for returning students

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