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5 Tips for Going Back to School Later in Life


Advice for returning to school later in life.It’s never too late to start a meaningful career.

At Ameritech College of Healthcare, we have students of all ages, from new high school graduates to professionals with decades of experience in nursing and other industries. What unites them is a shared passion for healthcare. We think that studying nursing, medical assisting, and dental lab technology is a calling, and sometimes it takes years to hear it. If you’re among the many adults deciding to go back to school later in life, you’re not alone, and you’re not without support. Here are five helpful tips to make the transition back into student life a little easier.

1. Communicate with your loved ones

Deciding to go to college will require adjustments for you, and for your family. If you’re married with kids when you go back to school, the transition can be difficult for all of you, so from the very beginning you need to communicate clearly. What would earning your BSN mean to you and your family? What opportunities would arise by your becoming a certified medical assistant?

Even before you apply to healthcare programs, tell your kids, spouse, and friends why you want to become a nurse or dental lab technician, and explain what that will look like for your finances and time together. Setting clear and realistic short- and long-term expectations can alleviate a lot of the tensions that will arise when schedules change and clinical rotations absorb your emotional energy.

Related Resource: 10 Ways to Keep in Touch During School

2. Make a schedule — and stick to it

As you communicate and set expectations, you need to make a plan for your time. Obviously, this will require some adjusting with each new term, but you should have a fairly rigid schedule outlining when you’ll go to class, when you’ll study, when you’ll work, when you’ll sleep, and when you’ll spend time with family. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but remember that hundreds of thousands of adult students manage it all every year, and remember too that it’s temporary.

You’re not going to be a student and a parent and an employee at the same time, forever. You can complete a medical assisting program in less than a year, or complete your BSN degree online in just three semesters. Once you finish, new opportunities will be opened to you for the rest of your career. Juggling everything won’t be easy, but in the long run, it’s worth it.

3. Don’t stress the test

If you haven’t been a student in a long time, going back to school and encountering exams and projects can feel especially daunting. That’s natural, but remember what you heard over and over in high school: It’s just a test. Grades and assessments matter, but exams are only designed to ensure you know the information you’ll need for your nursing, medical assisting, or dental technician career. At the end of the day, if you’ve retained that knowledge, you’ll be fine, even if you haven’t taken a test or written a report in years. And the less you stress, the better your mind will be at remembering that knowledge when it’s time for finals or the NCLEX.

Related Resource: 6 Things to Keep in Mind While Studying for Finals

4. Look into financial aid

Financial aid isn’t just for young students. Anyone can qualify, so like everybody else you need to apply for the FAFSA and look into financial aid options as soon as you decide you’re going back to school. College may not be the financial burden you and your family expected, but you’ll never know unless you apply.

Related Resource: 7 Things to Keep in Mind While Applying to FAFSA

5. Remember to sleep

And just take care of yourself, overall. Major life changes entail stress, and if you’re an adult adding school on top of all of your personal and professional responsibilities, it’s easy to forget about your health in the process. Sufficient rest is essential to succeeding as a healthcare student, whatever your age. You also need the same nutrition and aerobic exercise you’re learning to recommend to future patients. Practice what you’re taught until the day you graduate — and beyond.

Related Resource: 10 Tips to Sleep Better During School

At Ameritech, we work hard to support all of our students, preparing them for meaningful careers by setting them up for success. That’s true whether you’re 18 or 48. Our curriculum is designed for students of all ages, so you can start a career in healthcare at any stage of life. To learn more about our nursing, medical assisting, or dental lab technician programs, reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you!