Now plan to return to school in the fall as a mature student
While you enjoy all the beauty of a Wisconsin summer – from barbecues to a visit to the zoo – be sure to plan in time to plan the ABCs of back to school in the fall as a returning adult student. Things may have changed since the last time you applied and enrolled in college or continuing education. Here are some steps you can take during summer downtime to prepare for fall applications and registration.
Document your goals. Start by reminding yourself why you are taking this step. Are you completing a degree that you failed to complete? Changing course in your career? Add skills and knowledge that will help you progress? Be clear about your goals by journaling and chatting with a trusted colleague, friend or family member. Reminding yourself of the big picture, the little chores along the way are worth your time.
Determine the deadlines. Find out the registration deadlines for your program of interest. Many schools have continuous admissions, which means they assess applications as they receive them rather than a specific deadline, and then publish the decisions several times a year. What if you missed a deadline? It doesn’t hurt to ask if they will accept a late request. If not, put a note in your calendar for the next deadline, but feel free to ask what options you might have to start this fall. For example, can you take a course without credit or enter school as a student without a degree to complete a prerequisite?
Collect transcripts. Find out if the program requires transcripts and, if so, which ones. Many transcripts can now be requested online from various institutions, but you may need to contact multiple schools which can take some time. Allow at least a month to make sure you meet the deadlines.
Understanding Finances. Calculate the cost of education and don’t forget about books and other expenses like travel and parking. Look at your budget and see if there are any costs that you can reduce. Investigate tuition fees and employer professional development funds. Not everyone is eligible for financial aid, but complete the Financial Aid Application (FAFSA, fafsa.ed.gov) as many schools require it for you to be considered for grants and scholarships. . Speak with an institution’s financial aid specialist and find out about other options for financing your studies.
Plan for balance. How do you see your life when you go back to school? If you keep your job and have other obligations, how will you fit in the time to take care of yourself and keep doing things that bring you calm and happiness? It’s important to take this into account before your start date so that you can balance your life. Start by recruiting friends and family to support you, hire help, or just schedule intentional time to do things that spark joy and keep you connected.
Summer is also a great time to browse websites to find out more about the program you would like to attend in the fall. Email, ask questions, read in your field, and adopt an academic mindset. You can also ask to speak with current students or graduates. And don’t forget to go back to school for your groceries, remembering the excitement of having that new pencil case and getting ready for a year of learning and growth.
The Lifelong Learner is a monthly article written by the Continuing Studies staff at UW-Madison. Anne Niendorf, Student Services Coordinator, can be contacted at [email protected] This article first appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal June 13, 2021.