Making the decision to return to school after taking time off–whether it was for a single semester or a decade–can be difficult. You’re bound to be out of practice when it comes to studying. It is all too easy to psych yourself out when it comes to thinking about the amount of work you’ll have for each class. But have no fear! These 5 strategies will answer how to go back to school and help you to get back into the swing of things.
1. Start SLOW
You finally decide to head back into the classroom. It can be really exciting and tempting to jump in headfirst. But, it is also VERY easy to feel overwhelmed and want to give up. So rather than taking on a full class load while you try to continue working, having a family, and keeping up your social life, try just dipping your toe in with a class or two.
By going slow, you’ll have the time to reteach yourself how to be a student and balance your life without quite so many growing pains.
2. Have a solid support group
The people you surround yourself with can have a major effect on all aspects of your daily life, even if you don’t realize it as it is happening. When you return to school, being surrounded by people who don’t support your decisions or don’t think you can do it will quickly negatively impact your performance.
Likewise, finding someone to take a class with you, or who returned to school as well is a great way to keep yourself on track. Having someone to ask for advice on tough situations or to commiserate over your least-favorite professor goes a long way!
3. Set goals for yourself that will help you to stay motivated
There is nothing like a goal to get yourself motivated. Whether it’s a short term goal like finishing a paper a day early, or a long term goal like getting your Ph.D., the act of setting your goals–and writing them down–is the best way to remember why you’re doing something.
If you’re like me, it’s easy to get bogged down in the little things. It’s easy to lose sight of your end game. Setting challenging but reachable goals will help you to move forward.
4. Celebrate the milestones
It is important to reward yourself for taking the steps to change your life. After all, that is what you’re doing by going back to school. And celebrating the little and big milestones in some way will help you to keep going and keep yourself in a good mental state to finish.
So each time you complete a goal, treat yo’ self!
5. Take the plunge
This is by far the hardest part of going back to school. But, swallowing your fears and walking into that enrollment office or filling out the application online is the best thing you can do for yourself. Take it from someone who has stopped and started school more times than she would like to admit. Taking the leap is totally worth it in the end.