Preparing for School as an Adult Learner | Generations College
Main menu
Org Snippet
You are here

Preparing To Go Back To School As An Adult Learner

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Going back to school as an adult can help you learn new skills and help you advance in your current role or prepare you for a new, more-rewarding career. However, preparing to go back to school as an adult learner often requires scheduling adjustments most students going to college straight from high school do not need to consider. The logistical challenges of returning to school after taking time away from education can be mentally taxing. But knowing what to expect and preparing yourself ahead of time can go a long way in reducing your stress and setting you up for success.


Preparation for returning to college starts with having all the tools you will need at your disposal. While you will want to confirm technology requirements and course-specific requirements with your college and instructors, a general list of supplies for college includes:

  • A calendar or an academic planner
  • A computer
  • Dedicated backpack or laptop carrying case
  • Reliable internet access
  • Printer and paper (or ready access)
  • Textbooks
  • File folders
  • Notebooks
  • Pens/pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Flash drives
  • Calculator
  • Sticky notes

Depending on your circumstances, you may also want to invest in quality headphones or earbuds, particularly if you expect to spend time studying in a noisy environment.


If there is a common trait shared by most successful adult learners, it is that they have found ways to organize their work, school, and home lives to maximize efficiency. When you are already juggling multiple responsibilities, adding college courses into the mix can be overwhelming. Some of the ways adult learners can stay on top of their obligations include:

  • Make time management a priority. Managing your time effectively can be easier when you use a planner or calendar. You can schedule time for completing assignments and studying for tests, while planning around work schedules, appointments, and family commitments.
  • Organize your school materials. Try to keep your desk or dedicated study space neat and organized. When you put papers in folders or binders and use a drawer or cup to hold things like pens and highlighters, it can be easier to focus on the task at hand.
  • Make time for yourself. Schoolwork is important, but it is also important not to sacrifice your work-life balance in the process. Make time for yourself and your loved ones. Maintaining your hobbies and self-care while in college can help you avoid burnout.
  • Have a plan but be willing to adjust. Planning for your ideal college experience is the first step in achieving that experience but recognize that things can (and will) disrupt your plan from time-to-time. Be willing to modify your plan to accommodate life changes and try to avoid adopting a perfectionist mindset.


At Generations College, we understand the challenges adult learners face, and we are committed to helping adults of all ages turn their educational dreams into reality. In fact, we have been doing so since 1904! We are proud to be the oldest fully accredited, two-year, private, not-for-profit institution in Illinois.

Students can choose in-person classes at our campus in the heart of Chicago or opt for fully-online programs designed to help busy learners complete their courses from the comfort of their own homes — and on their own schedules. To learn more, contact Generations College today!