It’s possible that, by age 30, your long-term goals aren’t aligning with your current career, you’re not moving forward in terms of gaining new skills, or the career you pursued is no longer a field in which you ultimately want to remain.
Consequently, you might be considering going back to school, be it getting a master’s or starting your academic journey from scratch, i.e., from a bachelor’s.
Since it’s been a while, the doubts might cloud your judgment, and you might not be entirely sure if you’re doing the right thing. On another front, you might have family or job obligations that make you doubt the possibility of going back to school. Well, here are some tips that can help you make the best decision to reach your long term goals.
1. Do Your Research
Do your research before choosing a university or program. Look for programs that will arm you with the practical skills you’ll need. If you already know what program you want to pursue, check the program overview, learning goals, and career outlook. Some universities provide a detailed description for each program so prospective students know if it is the right one for them.
An important aspect to research is a university’s mission and values. How does the university invest in their students’ personal development? For example, a university that offers a variety of student services and promotes an inclusive environment will provide diverse communities and non-traditional students with an enjoyable experience.
2. Make a Realistic Plan
Whether you are looking to change careers or want to finish a degree you started in the past, having an idea of what you want to achieve could be reassuring, serve as a motivator during your studies, and help you stay focused.
Responsibilities and commitments can often make it difficult to focus on coursework, so it’s important to be realistic about how you’re going to fit school into your schedule. The goal is to find a way to make your education work within your current lifestyle and not overload yourself.
The plan doesn’t have to be particularly detailed; however, it can consist of objectives like the anticipated timeline for program completion, the number of courses to take each semester, and when you will have the time to do coursework.
3. Choose a Degree That Fits You
Remember to ask questions that will tell you what degree would best benefit you. Do you want to find a program near where you live? Do you require flexibility? Many graduate students are adult or returning students, and university programs offer scheduling flexibility but may take longer to complete.
Then there are degrees that offer different specializations, such as Entrepreneurship, Global Affairs, or Economics and Finance within a Master of Business Administration. These programs are beneficial to those aiming to open their own business or take on more administrative roles in their current workplace.
In case you are not set on what you want to pursue, look at the programs that a school offers; you might find a subject that interests you, and aligns with your goals. In addition, if you’re in-between options, select a field that not only has growth potential but that you are genuinely passionate about.
4. Use Effective Time Management
Making time is often the most daunting part of going back to school when you’re 30 and over. How do you juggle your day-to-day responsibilities while being successful in school? To stay on track, use tools such as schedules, to-do applications, or even reach out to friends and family to hold you accountable for time management.
With all of your various obligations, finding a balance is the best way to accomplish your objectives. Don’t forget to set aside time every week for your loved ones and friends. They can become a great source of encouragement that may relieve the stress of pursuing your degree.
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5. Leave Doubts Behind
It can be hard to take that first leap, but going back to college at 30 doesn’t have to be as intimidating as you think it is. Give yourself time to adjust. A new routine and expectations can be stressful and are likely to hit harder if you haven’t been in school for many years.
However, remind yourself that you can bring experience and maturity to the classroom as an adult learner, which allows you to learn faster. Don’t be intimidated if it’s been a while or if other students are younger than you. Many of today’s college classrooms are a diverse mix of students from all backgrounds.
Going back to school at 30 can prove challenging, especially if you’re juggling multiple obligations. However, if you’ve done your research, found a degree that fits you, and planned ahead, you can manage the challenges of returning to school and focus on the excitement of starting a new chapter in your life. Take the first step and check out our bachelor’s, master of science, and MBA programs!