And we’re back!

Hello everyone! And happy Thanksgiving! This month I’m going to discuss that whole decision to go to, or go back to, college. It’s a big deal, and I’m actually someone who had to make that decision recently myself, as I’m currently in grad school! Yay! Education is fun!

One of the unique things about online education is the makeup of students that choose to attend an online college. They’re not typically your traditional-aged student, which I believe I’ve mentioned before, and therefore aren’t “heading to college” right after graduating high school. So this means you have to almost put your life on hold, or figure out how to balance your life – work, family, friends, etc. – while you also attend classes, rather than shape your life completely around your college experience (although that does happen a bit too).

Timing out your entrance or return to higher education is a key aspect of becoming successful as a student. The time commitment is big, whether you’re a part-time student or a full-time student. It is definitely an adjustment when you start having to make that time for classes, and more so for the readings and paper-writing and other homework. You need to know that you have the time or that you can make the time for all of the extra work it adds to your daily schedule, though it will likely still take an adjustment period.

I decided to return to school as a full-time student, while working part-time, and it took almost a month to adjust to how much time I needed to set aside for my schoolwork. Luckily, I was able to get to a point now where I feel confident in setting up a week’s worth of homework so that I can get everything done and not feel too overwhelmed or swamped, but it was not an easy adjustment and caused a bit of stress while I was trying to figure out how to be a college student again.

As a non-traditional student, the things you look for when you’re making a decision about college are very different than what an 18-year-old high school graduate is looking for. This is why online colleges are often such a great choice for non-traditional students, because we’re not necessarily looking for the social life and the campus living set up, and we’re focused much more on the actual education itself. Online colleges and universities offer more freedom with focusing on the education, without feeling like you’re missing out on the campus happenings (though I obviously still encourage everyone to get involved outside the classroom as well! See almost all of my previous posts for information on that.).

Deciding on a major is also usually something you want to think about before making the decision to attend an online university – though you should still be able to switch programs while you’re enrolled if you come across a course that makes you reconsider your major, or have an opportunity for a new or better-suited career. But with that extra emphasis on the education more than on the campus life, and with that school/life balance that comes with being a non-traditional student, knowing what you want to study right when you enroll just gets you to that end goal all the faster and puts that all-important degree in your hand.

College is a big deal, a big expense, a big time commitment, and a big life changer. But it’s a great decision to make, and when you know you’ve thought about all your options before enrolling, and have really committed to this choice, you can make it through the long nights and the long papers because you know why you’re putting yourself through that!

And that is really something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.