3 Tips for Going Back to School After Taking Time Off
Sometimes things don't go as planned. Maybe it's cliché, but it's true: every so often something falls through, and whatever big plan you thought you had is turned on its head. It’s scary and jarring, but suddenly, you have to start over.
College is no different. If anything, it's even more prone to these changes. One bad grade can throw off your course plan, and one life change can throw off your entire college career. Sometimes, you have to put your education on the back burner for a while, and when that happens, going back to school can range from difficult (if you miss a semester or two) to nearly impossible (after several years, or, in some cases, several decades). Here are a few tips for navigating college round 2 (or 3...or 4...).
Take a Couple Steps Back
The first thing you need to do before you can continue your journey to your degree is one of the hardest decisions to make. You have to let yourself backtrack a little. This is especially true if you've missed over a year of school and if you were pretty far into your major.
You’ve probably forgotten some things. Scratch that. You’ve definitely forgotten some things. And you need a refresher course.
Don’t feel defeated. You don't necessarily have to retake an entire semester's worth of classes. There are alternatives, of course, depending on your free time and learning style. You could spend a month or so reviewing the material by rereading textbooks or watching online videos, or spending time practicing the skills that have become rusty. But there's a chance that when it gets down to it, you might need to retake one or two classes, just to re-lay the foundation that's been weathering while you've been away dealing with the rest of your life.
Related: 4 Reasons to Take a Gap Year
Ease Into It
This isn't like the time you graduated from high school and three months later started classes on campus. You're not used to learning anymore. Maybe you like heavy course loads, but right now, give yourself a semester to re-adjust to taking classes. Yes, it's slow. Yes, it will take longer to get your degree. But chances are it will save both your sanity and your GPA if you give yourself a buffer period instead of diving feet first into the middle of a major that was probably pretty difficult even before you left school.
Accept That Things May Be Different Now
People change over time. Interests change, personalities change, and that affects how we learn - as well as what we want to learn in the first place. So if you find yourself struggling with the fact that your interests are different and oh my gosh I'm half way done with this major but I don't want this anymore, realize that it's okay.
The most important thing about going back to college is doing it for the right reasons. Don't do it because you feel guilty about leaving. Don't do it because your family keeps telling you to. Do it because you love what you're learning. Do it because it's your passion. Do it because it's what you want for yourself.