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How Adults Returning to College Make-it Work

This month’s Valley Business Journal article marks the beginning of my writing a monthly article for a full two years. One might think that I’ve run out of higher education topics. No, not the case. In fact, the longer I work with adult college students, the more material I get!  I’m repeatedly fascinated and impressed with how the non-traditional student, those who come back to college quite a ways past the age when they initially dropped-out of college, take the leap to again enter college.  Here are three questions that I find them asking and the most frequent responses:

  1. Should I even think of going to college because attending college is a huge investment? What I’ve learned from the non-traditional student is that they absolutely know their investment in college is more than money, it’s time and often time away from family. But they also know that it’s an investment with eventual benefits and this includes earning a college degree plus demonstrating to one’s family, friends and workplace associates that “I did it.”
  1. Can I succeed in going back to college since I’m kind of “damaged goods” by previously dropping out of college and not having good grades?
  1. I’ve heard this question many times … and it’s often a question delivered with some measure of personal shame. The fact is, there are many of us who were not stellar students. Some of us were quite successful at having fun but not at completing our academic requirements. My 30+ years of higher education experience has shown that the label “damaged goods” is one that can be eliminated. Today’s returning adult student should find a regionally accredited college degree program that is especially designed for the working adult and has class meeting times that allows them to be a student + employee + family member + …maybe have some personal life.
  1. How does returning to college fit into my life and finances? Time management is the part of the big answer to fitting college into one’s adult life. A simple online search using the words … “improving adult college student time management skills” will provide some good suggestions for how to make college fit into one’s life. Financially, every regionally accredited college will have Financial Aid Counselors who can provide a range of options for financing a college degree. We also recommend checking with one’s workplace to see if there is some type of college assistance program. And, while having to apply for scholarships can be a time-consuming process, I frequently learn of returning adult students receiving scholarships.

Happy New Year and I look forward to discussing the topic of Higher Education via The Valley Business Journal in 2016!

Written by Vickie Becker, EdD

Vickie Becker, EdD, is the Executive Director for the Azusa Pacific University Murrieta Regional Center. She may be reached at 951.304.3400 or

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