Going Back to School After Time Off – GradPlan

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Going Back to School After Time Off

You stopped out of college, but now you're ready to return. Here's how to get started.

Many people take time off before attending college or take a break after completing a few classes. After a break, it can be hard to get back to school and maybe you’re not sure where to start. Regardless of your reason, we are proud of you because taking the first step by reading this article is brave!  Consider the following 5 steps to start your journey back to school.


Reflect On Your Why & Make A Plan

Deciding to go back to school is a big decision and you should make sure you’re going back for the right reasons and making the decision for yourself. Whether it is to get a better education, secure a job, make a certain amount of money, or to finish something you started, what matters the most is that you are self-motivated and clear-minded.

Tip: Take 30 minutes to journal about why you want to go back and how it makes you feel. List one step you can accomplish toward your goal of going back this week, one step you can accomplish next week, and a third step to do this month.


Prepare Yourself For Change

Prepare to be back in a classroom by scheduling study and homework time so you can balance these new responsibilities with your current obligations. If you work, consider how taking classes may affect your schedule or if you may have to (and can) stop working to prioritize school.

Tip: Use a scheduling system, like Google Calendar to hold yourself accountable to the plans you make, and to let others know when you are (and aren’t) available.


Do Your Research On The Application Process 

Research colleges and programs you are interested in and find ones that best align with your future professional and personal goals. Take a tour if you can. When you find programs you’re interested in, track the application materials required and deadlines for application and financial aid.

Tip: Admission staff can help you navigate the application process if you have any questions or concerns, and connecting with someone may help increase your chances of admission.



You’ve probably thought of this one already, but we still have to say it! Whether you have been working and saving money for school, relying on financial aid, or a combination of both, detailing your expenses and income in a budget will empower you to make financial decisions that are right for your situation.

Tip: Apply for the FAFSA for federal aid, or your state’s application for state aid if they have one. Review financial aid and scholarship deadlines on your prospective school’s website, or make an appointment with a financial aid advisor to learn more about your options to fund your education.

Learn more about FAFSA »


Build A Support System

Going to school takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but having friends or family to support you can make a world of difference. Your support network should include loved ones, as well as an advisor from the college you are going to attend, and you might want to add additional skilled supporters like a tutor, a therapist or a trainer.

Tip: You don’t have to tell everyone your plans, but tell at least two people you trust about your goals and ask them to hold you accountable this month. This means that you expect them to ask you about your progress and to push you to stick to your schedule to reach your goals.

~And Remember ~

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"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."

Malcolm X, human rights activist