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5 tips if you intend to go back to school

Posted on 15 March 2023

5 tips if you intend to go back to school

​5-minute read

With the job market all over the place at the moment many that I am speaking with are considering returning to school (or some form of education) to utilise this time to up-skill themselves. Going back to school once meant new pens, highlighters and a lunch box! It can still mean those things, but going back to school as an adult means so much more. It presents an opportunity to change career paths, reinvent your ‘why’ on this planet and focus your years on something you want, not simply something you have to.

The prospect of returning to school is a daunting endeavour. The older we get, the more responsibilities we have, and the harder it gets to put ourselves first and take on such a challenge. However, with the rise of distance learning and shortened courses, the prospect of returning to school is becoming a little easier to comprehend.

As someone who has personally been balancing returning to school via distance learning (Open University) and a full-time job, I have collected some of the tips that have helped me thus far in my efforts to up-skill myself as an adult. However, these tips are not exclusive to those working and studying, they can be used for those that re-entre full-time education as well.

This article will introduce my 5 best tips, giving you a glimpse of what is helping me should you be considering going back to school, or if you’re there already but struggling to find the right balance for you.


Figure out finances

One of the earliest things you will want to do is figure out your finances. This is what often puts a lot of people off returning to school, the cost of doing so, or the perceived cost shall I say instead.

Depending on your situation, residence and interest topic to study you will likely still qualify for Government support. There is a lot of information online you can search for based on your personal circumstance, but the actual cost of returning to school is not as steep as you might think.

However, that said, it is still worth considering other aspects of your life such as rent/mortgage or supporting those that still rely on you such as parents or children. In these areas, you still might qualify for financial aid if your situation allows for it.


Create a routine

Having a routine that works based on your personal commitments and preferences will drastically help improve your chances of success when returning to school.

It might sound a little boring, and over the years many have laughed at me for it but my days look pretty much identical. I read at the same time, I learn at the same time, I work at the same time etc. it looks like someone has just gone ‘copy / ‘paste’ to my life, but as someone who has a focus, it keeps me in a routine that is gearing me towards success.

Find the right routine that works for you, your children, partner and working environment. Distance learning is a great option if you can as you generally are not restricted to certain hours in which you study, but I respect this is not for everyone.


Organisation is key

With a well-crafted routine, one should then focus on crafting well-organised physical, virtual and mental spaces to help get the most out of your study time.

Your physical space will depend on your study set-up, for me, a clear desk at the end of each session helps me start my next session off right, I have a dedicated working environment that also allows me to separate study and work from family.

Your virtual space, and in my case, my laptop has relevant information (course notes) stored in folders that are accessible but tidy.

Lastly, I do my best to allow my mental space to be clear from work, this offers me the chance for a better study session without stress from other aspects of my life creeping in. This is by far the hardest to keep in check, but knowing this helps me make a conscious effort daily.

Again, how you organise your study time will depend on what course you choose to enrol in and if you have the opportunity to study at home or not.


Find a commitment buddy

A commitment buddy is a friend, peer, family member, mentor or teacher. It is someone who will actively hold you accountable throughout the course.

The idea of having a commitment buddy allows you to share your intentions with them, and in turn and according to a pre-defined schedule you both set, they can check in with you (weekly or bi-weekly at most) to hear how you are doing and to keep you on track.

A commitment buddy should be someone that wants to see you succeed, as at times they will need to not only encourage you but tell you hard truths, so pick someone that you trust will keep you truly in check.


Forget the fear

The last tip and the easiest to hear but the hardest to action is to forget the fear. So, what if you are 45 and learning to code, or 37 and training to be a nurse. Who cares that you have more grey hair than the teacher or that you can’t go for drinks with the class because your son is learning to walk.

This is your life, and remembering that allows you to forget the fear.

You are returning to school for you, to better your life and to ensure the remaining years you have on this earth are spent doing something you truly want to do.


I truly hope these tips can give you a little guidance in your journey to return to school. I am still in the process myself and still learning every day, as we all are. If you feel someone could benefit from this article, I would be grateful if you could share it with them and together we can all support one other.

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