All Grown and Back-to-School? Tips and Tricks for Lifelong Learning

Going back to school after a summer vacation can be tough. You have to get used to a new routine and get your brain into learning mode. But what if you’re going back to school after many years away from the classroom? Adult learners who choose to return to school have the added challenge of stepping into the unknown while trying to balance adult responsibilities.  

WQLC talked to lifelong learners willing to share their experience with going back to school as adults after a long break. They shared their stories and insights to help inspire adults who are heading back to school this year and to help encourage those who may be thinking about jumping back in. 

Karen’s Story:

“I went back to school when I was 26 and took a nursing program. I was almost two years in when I started the clinical part of the nursing program. One of my teachers had warned me that it may be difficult and that maybe I should bow out and wait for the Personal Support Worker (PSW) course to start, but my heart was set on nursing so I stayed and in January 2010 I failed.

I was very sad and depressed until I got a call from that same teacher. She got me a job interview with Pontiac Reception Center. I was hired but I needed to be enrolled in a PSW program and pass in order to keep my job.

When school started the following September I was credited 8 out of 16 credits which meant I didn’t need to go to school all the time. I could work and go to school when I needed to follow my class. I was also class president and organized our graduation.

I have been a PSW for 11 years now. I have learned a lot and I am very proud of myself for not giving up.”

Lisa’s Story:

“I went back to college at 29 after having 3 kids (ages 3, 7 & 9). I was a stay at home mom for most of those years. I did the odd part time job and did some babysitting but it wasn’t enough and I wanted a career and to get out of the house once all my kids were in school.

I wanted to take the Social Service Worker course but it was only offered every 2 years in my area so I either had to start it in 2006 or wait until 2008. So basically it was now or never, but I was terrified. I wasn’t sure if I could handle raising my kids, making sure all of their needs were tended to, getting their homework done every night plus focusing on my own school work.

I had to be very organized both at home and at school. I meal planned, prepped lunches at night, got everyone’s clothes out at night, did the kid’s homework with them, baths, bed and then I focused on my own schoolwork. I did struggle and wanted to quit so many times.

In the end, I graduated with a 3.7 GPA. I had a great support system to help me through it all. The first few months were very rough, but life eventually got easier to balance. You’re never too old to set a new goal or have a new dream. It’s going to be hard but it’s possible.”

Tips for Success from Adult Learners:

Tip #1: Keep your eyes on the prize

Set small attainable goals for every step of the way towards your diploma. Setting goals allows learners to see improvements and experience successes. Click here to learn more about how you can set goals to help you stay on track and to keep you feeling motivated and inspired.

Tip #2: Create a support network

It’s important to find a support network to help you when you can’t handle things alone. Your support network could be family, friends, school services or community organizations.

Tip #3: Success looks different for everyone

Things may not go exactly as planned.  You might make some detours before you reach the finish line. Know that success and the time that it takes to get there is different for everyone. Set goals and make a plan. Then, be ready to adapt and change the plan to match your reality.

The Western Quebec Literacy Council helps adult learners gain the skills they need for success. If you’re an adult learner looking to improve your reading, writing, math, computer or communication skills contact the WQLC to learn about how we can help support your back-to-school journey.

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All Grown and Back-to-School? Tips and Tricks for Lifelong Learning

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