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Back-to-School Survival Guide

By M.J. Joachim,
Staff Writer

Going back to school can be hard, but it doesn't have to be

Going back to school is stressful, especially if you have work and family commitments. While it may be challenging and difficult at times, many people are able to attend school and successfully juggle their other obligations by focusing on a few important back-to-school survival techniques.

Manage Your Time Effectively

Higher education requires a significant time commitment. According to the Community Center for Elder College, you need to set aside "at least two hours of study time per hour spent in class." Depending on your course load, hours can quickly add up.

In order to manage your time effectively, calculate how much time you have for each of your individual activities. It's important to arrange a balanced class load, especially if you work, so that you don't become overwhelmed. The Community Center for Elder College recommends using a day planner to map out your work, school and personal schedules.

Familiarize Yourself with New Technology

It is vitally important to familiarize yourself with new technology when going back to school. Modern technology has made things a lot easier on college students and faculty. A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project suggests that college students regularly use the Internet for research and other related course activities. Assignments and class syllabuses are often posted online. Grades and teacher notes allow students track their work, contact teachers for various reasons, email fellow students and professors when they need help, and communicate when they need to be absent for any reason. Some teachers even prefer that students upload homework for easier grading.

Set Your Priorities

Students should outline long-term goals when they return to school. Make a reasonable and functional plan, along with achievable goals. With the help of a guidance counselor or faculty member, determine what classes you will need to take throughout your college career. Use the course catalog to balance difficult courses with easier ones. This will help you avoid becoming overwhelmed by a heavy course load.

Budget Your Finances Wisely

Going back to school can be expensive. Budget your finances wisely, taking advantage of scholarships and grants to help minimize your financial obligations. The United States Government has numerous resources available for college students on a budget.

Create a budget that allows you to document how and where you are spending your monthly income. Try to set aside some money for unexpected expenses like recommended reading materials, supplies for projects and donations for participation in study groups. According to the National College Transition Network, "you have to be prepared to pay some of the costs from your own pocket." Allotting for these things before you go back to school will make it easier to budget your finances wisely.

Last edited: May 3, 2012, 4:10 pm EST
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