Going back to school isn’t as easy as filing a college application and heading down to campus. In fact, recent studies have found that those who work over the age of 25 and attend school part-time drop out at a much higher rate than other students. However, if you’re on the rising trend of being a nontraditional college student, you can try and beat these odds! Here are a few ideas to help you get back to school and successfully graduate.

Know Your Goals

Now, before you start making any big decisions about college, it’s important to set and understand your goals. Are you going back to school to get a raise? Are you looking to move your career in a different direction? Do you just want to get your diploma? Understanding your goals will only making going back to school that much easier so you can prioritize what you want to do.

Look into Non-Traditional Learning

Your adult life is busy enough with your work and personal life, so figuring out how you can fit school in as well can seem impossible. If you don’t have time to go to class at a traditional university, it may be a good idea to look into other options for finishing your education. One of the most popular options is online courses or getting your degree through an online university. These programs allow you to take classes at the time that works best for you and move at your own pace.

Find the Right College

Once you know what you want out of your education and you have looked at the different option available to you, it’s time to start looking into which college is right for you. There are a variety of factors that will influence your decision, but some of them are more important than others. You should make sure that it offers programs that will allow you to accomplish your goals. There’s no point in applying to a school that won’t help you achieve what you want.

If you have decided to go the online route, make sure that the university is legitimate. There are a lot of scams out there, so look at the university’s reputation and accreditations. Being accredited means that an independent body has examined the university and its courses and decided that it is legitimate and will provide you with the skills you need. If the school is accredited, it will probably display that information prominently on its website.

Choose Your Major and Degree

If you’re planning on going back to college, you probably already have a career in mind that you eventually want to get to. But you need to figure out which major will get you there from the ones available at your school. There may be a degree that works perfectly with the career that you want that you may not be aware of.

Determine How You Will Pay

Unfortunately, college tuition costs are only rising. Going back to school can be an incredibly costly undertaking, especially if you do not have a plan. Look for scholarships and grants specifically for adults returning to school. You should also talk to your school about the costs of getting your degree and how you can apply for financial aid.

Build Your Support Network

When you are going back to college, you will need support from your family. There will be times when you need to focus on classes, schoolwork, and tests and you don’t want to have to fight your family over it. Counsel with your family members about the best way to balance your work, your school, and family activities. It would also be a good idea to get to know other non-traditional students who are in a similar position. You can provide each other with invaluable support during this process.

It may seem like an overwhelming challenge to go back to college, but don’t get discouraged. Start by figuring out what you want and move from there. There are so many options and things to help you get your degree, so start working on that now.

Author's Bio: 

Eileen O'Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy.