back to school as an adult

Things I Learned My First Semester Back in School

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I did it. My first semester back in college as a grown up is in the books. And I did really well. Not gonna brag or anything, but I did get A’s in every class and lab I took 😉

I learned 5 important things that I wanted to share, in case anyone reading this is also thinking of going back to school and doesn’t know what to expect.

When I was first thinking seriously about going back to school for a second degree, I scoured Pinterest and Google for articles just like this one. And I didn’t really find much. So I hope this post helps even just 1 person in their education journey.

You’ll Feel A Lot Older Than You Are

Like, for real. It’ll be like culture shock. You’ll be in classes surrounded by kids who are possibly more than 10 years younger than you. Guys, I’m not kidding. The kids I had classes with were born after the year 2000. WHAT?! In my mind it’s still 2004 and the ’90s were just a few years ago.

What was super weird was how ever-present cell phones were. Students had them out while waiting for class and all through class. Call me old, or old fashioned, but when I was in college the first time around, smart phones weren’t really a thing and if we got caught texting in class the teacher could take our phone away until class ended.

Even though so many of your classmates are going to look like children, they are probably going to be pretty darn friendly. I had one classmate in a bunch of my classes who was 18, and we texted each other whenever we had questions about topics to study or homework assignments.

Also know that there will be other older students, especially if you’re at a community college or state college. You’ll find that these students who are closer in age (and also who share things like mortgages and full time jobs) are the people you gravitate towards the most.

Regardless of who is in your classes, put yourself out there. Make acquaintances. It’ll help to have people you can talk to or study with before a big test, even if you know you’ll never be hanging out outside of the classroom/school.

You’ll Spend More Money Than You Plan On

Specifically on textbooks. How in the world did I forget how fucking much textbooks cost? I remember logging in to our student site and checking my textbook list and my jaw literally dropping as low as it would go. I was lucky that most of my books were available used for a good price on Amazon.

So make sure you budget in extra money for books. Oh, and lab supplies. And contact lens wearers, if you’re taking a higher level chemistry class apparently you need to wear glasses under your goggles (which you also need to buy) because fumes in the air can fuse to your contacts or something? I don’t know the specifics. I was just told by my intro to Chem teacher that I’ll have to get glasses eventually for lab.

Lastly, don’t forget about your parking pass fee if it’s not included in your tuition. They aren’t usually that much money, but it can really blow when you go to get it and have to hand over your credit card.

You’ll Sometimes Question Why You’re Doing It

Trust me when I tell you that there will be days when you are so exhausted or stressed or busy (or all three at once) that you will seriously start to wonder why in the hell you decided to do this to yourself, spend all this money, get very little sleep, and sacrifice all your free time just to get a degree.

There are hard days. Days you will want to throw in the towel and drop out. Days when you won’t care what grade you get on that test or that presentation because you just. want. more. sleep.

But there will also be days when you are on cloud nine and everything feels so right. So hang in there!

You’ll Surprise Yourself

Hello, didn’t I brag at the beginning of the post about my straight A’s?? For some people that might not be a big deal. But for a lady who’s been out of school for 7 years and never got good grades in science classes in high school or her first time around in college, who’s first degree is a romance language degree, straight A’s when you’re taking all science classes while working full time and going to school full time and keeping up with a Sunday cleaning job is a HUGE DEAL.

You will have times like this. Maybe you won’t get straight A’s. But you’ll get back a test that you thought you bombed and you’ll have a good grade. Or you’ll end up loving a class you thought you’d hate, and just wanted to get it out of the way because you need it to graduate.

Let yourself be surprised. And celebrate every little win.

It’s All Worth It

After my first semester ended in May, before I even got any grades for my classes, I found myself thinking back on the semester and everything I had accomplished.

You will get through those hard times. You’ll celebrate the good times. And you’ll know that you’re one step closer to your end goal.

All of that hard work will be so, so worth it. So work hard, and do great things.

Tell Me About Your Journey

Are you just starting to play around with the idea of returning to school? Are you currently enrolled as an adult student? Have you finished your journey as an adult student? Or is this whole concept something you never want to face? Tell me in the comments or on social media! Or send me an email!

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