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Herzing University

Christine Paul Cardenas

Strategies and Tips for Adults Going Back to School

Don’t forget that many adults are going back to school, whether that is to continue their education, jumpstart their career or start a new one.

When we think of the back-to-school season, the image that is most likely to pop into our head is young children gathering school supplies. Don’t forget that many adults are going back to school, whether that is to continue their education, jumpstart their career or start a new one.

Going back to school as an adult may seem challenging and stressful but you can adapt! Here are some strategies and tips for adults who are going back to school.

Attend Your Classes

The first step to academic success is to go to class, and this is especially the case in higher education, where a lot of information can be covered in a short period of time. Don’t skip your classes! You might end up cramming and playing catch-up at the end of the semester. Cramming is never a good idea and it is not effective. 

Some programs do not require students to attend all classes. Regardless, you will still benefit from showing up to your lectures. Your professors might give you tips on what’s going to be on the exams or maybe your professors will do some reviews. In some programs such as nursing, it is required for students to attend every class. So, if you want to be a nurse, you must show up.


Read your books or e-books. Read your syllabus, so you will know the requirements and assignments. Highlight your exam dates and other deadlines. Once you’ve read what chapters are covered each week and for every unit exam, read ahead. It never hurts to review at least two to three chapters in advance, so you’re ready for the discussions in class and the exams.

Know How You Learn Best

Assess yourself and understand how you learn best. Are you a visual learner, auditory or kinesthetic learner? If you are a visual learner, it means you learn best by seeing. Watching tutorial videos are good for you. If you are an auditory learner, that means you learn best by listening. Ask your professor if you can record the lectures in class. If you are a kinesthetic learner, that means you learn best by doing. It simply means hands-on learning is best for you. Practice your skills. 

Figure out what works best for you and how you learn for skills, improvement, memory and retention of information.

Use a planner

Whether it’s traditional or digital, it’s important to add your exam dates, when your assignments are due and other due dates on your planner. You can also set reminders on your computer or smartphone. If you use an iPhone, a Mac computer or an iPad, you can put them on your calendar.

Study Space, Internet & School Supplies

Whether you are an online student or not, it’s important to set a space in your home that is only for studying. Then, organize your study space before the semester begins.

You’ll want to make sure your internet is reliable, and that your computer works well. Make sure it has a camera, anti-virus and enough memory.

Check your email

Most colleges and universities communicate through their institution’s email, so make sure you’re checking frequently. You can also connect your student email to your personal email, which might make it easier to keep track.

Use your Resources

Seek help when needed and use your available resources. For example, if you are struggling with writing papers in the APA style of documentation that is used in research papers (modeled after the American Psychological Association), you can ask for help from the writing center at the university.

If you have any questions – such as having trouble understanding a concept or topic – ask your instructor. You can also ask for tutoring if you’re struggling with math, critical thinking, medical-surgical nursing, or some other topics or subjects. 

If you need scholarly articles or peer-reviewed journals, use the online library of the university. You can also reach out to the online librarians of the university if you have any questions about how to use the online library.

Practice Math

If you are proficient in math and you still remember your algebraic equations, good for you. If you need to polish your math skills for your exams in nursing school, for example, it’s a lifesaver for you to learn dimensional analysis and review your ratio and proportion. There’s a lot of math in nursing. Many aspiring nursing students do not realize that in the beginning.

Even if you are not a huge fan of numbers, just keep practicing. You’ll need it if you want to be a nurse, doctor, or any type of healthcare worker. For example, math skills for nurses can be a matter of life and death. If a nurse gives the wrong dose of medication or uses the wrong system of measurement, the patient might be severely affected, such as sustaining an overdose.

Have a Vision and Set Goals

Have a clear vision of what outcome do you want from your education. Where do you want to be and what do you want to do in 5, 10 or 20 years from now? Are you willing to sacrifice now for a better tomorrow? Focus on the long-term benefits, not the short-term obstacles.

Think about what you want to achieve in class and during the semester. Do you want to get an A, a B, or a C in class? It’s all up to you. Set your goals for the semester and do what it takes to meet those goals.

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* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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