How To Drop Back In
Some college students graduate in four years and, with dual credit, some are graduating in two or three. Then there are those of us who don’t like to talk about how long exactly it took.
Dropping out of college happens. Sometimes, the finances just overwhelm you, if you’re trying to work full time and go to school full time. Sometimes there’s a personal crisis, illness or a death in the family.
In my case, I just wasn’t ready to go to college. There’s a concept going around now called a “gap year” and I really could have used that then. Not to backpack across Europe or have my parents plan out a nice educational experience for me. I needed to work for a living, support myself, pay my own bills.
I got that year, but I had to drop out of college first.
Then, once I realized I really wanted that degree, I faced a lot of issues. Here are a few tips on how to drop back in to college.
Face Your Fears
I had concerns about going back to college, including a legitimate fear of failure. What made me think I wouldn’t fail again? One big thing to remember, you are not the same person today that you were then.
In my case, high school had been too easy and I didn’t learn to apply myself for college. But after holding down a job for a year, I had developed a work ethic. Rain or shine, I went to work. In college, if it looked like I was going to be late to class, I might just not go at all because it was embarrassing to walk past the professor and students. When you need that paycheck, you show up, late or not. And you quickly learn not to be late or you will lose that job.
But I also learned I didn’t want just any job for a paycheck. I wanted a career and in a field that appealed to me and for which I had an aptitude. But I had to have that degree, so I had to face those fears.
Start By Asking
Even if you left under a bit of a cloud, contact your first college. You will need those records to enroll anyway, so you might as well find out if it is possible to re-start and what exactly it will take.
Universities have admissions counselors who can advise you on what you need to do to get back on track. Worst case scenario, you might need to go to community college to get those core courses and get your GPA back up. Just make a commitment and do what it takes.
Once you decide to go back to college, don’t delay. Credits expire and professors or administrators who you liked and who might befriend your new effort retire or worse.
You Get What You Put Into It
That year working had also helped me develop a new appreciation for what it took to earn money. I was lucky enough to have family help with the cost of college but now I knew exactly what that cost added up to and I was going to get value for that money.
Unlike my original effort, I went back to college knowing what degree I wanted and how it would help me toward the career I was targeting. And I wasn’t going to waste a dime. I went to every session of every class. Not surprisingly, my grades shot up.
It’s Never Too Late
If you worry that you won’t fit in on campus as an older student, you might be surprised. You’ll relate better to professors and staff who, after all, work for a living. You’ll also find there are other older students. Some are seeking a career change, some are retired from the military, some are, like you, back to get that first degree.
You Are Worth It
I have not regretted for a single day going back to get my degree. If you are afraid it’s too late or it’s going to be too much work or you won’t fit in as an older student, just remember this: you are worth it. You deserve to spend your working life doing something you love and are good at. If that job requires a degree, then you can give yourself that gift just by making the commitment.