Most adults who return to college after a hiatus are more focused than their first time pursuing a degree.
That focus is helpful in the classroom. But adults who have been away from college are often surprised by how much today’s faculty and students rely on technology.
Rob Kurland, an associate dean at Rutgers University’s campus in Newark, N.J., says most returning students aren’t used to gadgets now common on campus, like handheld devices students use to communicate with faculty during lectures. Even some in-person classes include online tests and discussions.
James Lee, undergraduate dean at Cambridge College in Cambridge, Mass., says today’s fast-paced world gives students higher expectations for college. They expect individualized service and multiple ways to turn in assignments.
Flexibility is especially important for returning students, who usually have jobs and families.
“They have other commitments, so schooling becomes a second or third priority,” Kurland said.
Many colleges offer accelerated degree programs that allow students to earn diplomas faster than a traditional school calendar — usually by taking classes at night.
Free advice for heading back
Going back to school? Here’s advice from Elaine Green, dean of the School of Continuing Studies at Chestnut Hill College:
» See if you can get credit for what you’ve already learned. You might get credit for taking College-Level Examination Program tests or making a portfolio on what you’ve learned at work.
» Eat good food and get enough rest.
» Get to know your classmates.
» Use campus services like tutoring and counseling.