A diary of a college student: Rebecca’s story

“A diary of a college student” is a series where we profile a variety of students to get a glimpse of their day-to-day. Learn from their stories of balancing family, work, and school.


I started college a year ago to finish my degree in Social Work. The important thing when transferring as an adult to a four-year university is to do research on where you are going. If you have been to college before, it’s important to know a few things about the school you are wanting to attend:

1. Is there an Adult degree program?

Many universities have Adult degree programs offered in a variety of courses. With an Adult degree program there are several benefits such as a flexible course schedule, reduced tuition, and accommodating programs with specific advisors for working adults with a busy schedule.

2. Verify which credits will or will not transfer.

This was a big challenge for me because I had inquired at other colleges and were told several different things about what would or would not transfer. Ask for specifics. This will determine the length of your college career. If you feel like something should transfer as a major credit and it transfers as an elective because of the length of time that’s passed since taking the course, inquire about it. This really made a difference in the length of how long it was going to take me to finish. (When I started a year ago, it was going to take me 3 years, by the end of this year, my advisors were able to get other courses transferred, and now I have 1 year left). So verifying credits really does matter!!!

3. Try to obtain a good relationship with your advisor or department chair.

After you begin your first semester or decide your major, these people will be a key aspect in helping you as you journey through your college years. Not only are they there to help pick your classes academically, but most of the time, if you chose a small, or close knit school, they are there to support you in all aspects throughout your college time.

4. Don’t take a heavy load your first semester.

When returning back to school as an adult, it’s important to start slow and get your feet wet. Although many adults are ready to get in and get done, the importance of returning and starting over as an adult, is to make sure you’re ready, and to not rush or overload yourself with too many hours.

Starting back at college as an adult student can be a challenge. As a 34-year-old senior, trying to go back to school and also have a life beyond school can be difficult. Although I don’t have kids, I am married. It’s important not only to manage my household, keep up with the cooking, cleaning, and shopping, as well as maintain a full time position as a college student.  Some days, I feel overwhelmed. But starting over does not have to be overwhelming.

Some of the things that have helped me get through this past year:

  1. Allowing myself freedom to de-stress.  It’s important to not push my limits.  If I start to feel overwhelmed, I take a break.
  2. It’s ok to let the kitchen or laundry go every now and then.  Sometimes if I have something important to do for school, I can let the other stuff go for a day. It’s not the end of the world.
  3. Talk to your spouse, if you are married. If not make sure you have a good support system to help you talk through your stresses. Because just like a job, school is stressful and tiring.

Walking into a classroom full of teenagers and 20-something-year-olds after being out of school for 15 years can be intimidating. School alone can be intimidating. However, I hope that you find a place that you feel safe and comfortable.  School as an adult does not have to scary. Just because you’re starting over, does not have to be scary. It should be a powerful step, an encouraging step for a better direction for you to better your life and to help you as an adult to do something you have always wanted to do. I know it has for me!

I hope these tips in starting over as an adult student have been beneficial. They have really helped me in my journey as I began my continuation of my college career.

About the Author: Rebecca Smith is a 34-year-old full-time undergraduate student at Belmont University. She is studying Social Work.


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