Back to School: Advice for Returning Students

There are plenty of reasons you may not have finished your undergraduate degree, and there are plenty more why you might have decided to return to college and pick up where you left off. No matter what your situation, you face an exciting and challenging road as a returning student. Keep the following advice in mind as you get ready to re-enter the college fold.

Think about a trial run: As a returning student, you probably have more on your plate than the typical incoming freshman. So think about starting out by taking one or two classes through a community college, extension campus or online program to see how college coursework fits with your other obligations.

Find a college that works for your lifestyle: If you have family commitments or plan to continue working while attending college, choose a school that offers plenty of evening and weekend classes. You might even consider an online learning program. Many colleges also have affordable married or family housing and even subsidized, on-site day care, which can ease the financial burden of continuing your education.

Research admissions and re-enrollment policies for returning students: Some colleges have different application requirements for returning or adult students. For example, you might be able to take a placement test in lieu of the SAT or ACT. And, if you plan to re-enroll in a college you previously attended, there might be a separate application process that, depending on your standing when you left the school, could give you preference for readmission.

Roll those credits: Make the most of any college credit you’ve already earned, even if it’s been years since you attended a college class. Share your transcript with the admissions office or a transfer advisor to see what will carry over. You might be able to also get course credit for work experience in a field related to the degree program you’re pursuing. Also consider a program such as CLEP, College-Level Examination Program, which lets you test out of and sometimes earn credit for certain college courses.

Don’t forget financial aid: Like any other college-bound student, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA, available online at, to see what federal aid you qualify for. Check with your college to see what grants, scholarships, loans and tuition payment programs they offer. And if you’ll continue to work while you attend classes, ask your employer if they have a tuition assistance program.

Enjoy your college experience: Sure, as a returning student you might be a bit more focused than the average fresh-faced freshman. But don’t let that prevent you from having the experiences that make college, well, college. Get to know your fellow classmates. Join a student club. Pursue a new interest. Not only will you enrich your college career, you might even gain a broader perspective on the world around you.

Remember to take advantage of the resources for college students available at Cappex, including scholarship opportunities.