For many, getting back into school as part of your recovery journey is intimidating. It gets pushed back with excuses and self-doubt. We allow fear of failure to block our future blessings. But one of the most valuable lessons we learn in recovery is just how far dedication and persistence can carry you. Having the desire to further your education is great, but you need to know how to get there. Follow these 5 steps to getting back into school.
#1: Get to a Starting Point
Okay, so you want to go back to school: why? Consider what goals you want to achieve through getting back into school. Do you want to start your own business, further your career? Or are you simply looking to expand your intellectual horizons? No matter what the cause, knowing the ‘why’ behind your next goal helps keep you dedicated.
More than that, getting to a starting point includes taking the necessary preparatory steps. That includes gathering high school records or obtaining your GED. Do you still need to take the SAT/ACT? Have you taken any college level courses that may be eligible for credit transfer? Gather all of this information so you are prepared when it’s time to register.
#2: Figure Out What Works for You
What kind of time do you have to dedicate to your education? How many classes per semester can you reasonably handle? Think about these things and go at your own pace, utilizing all options that are available to you. Online courses are perfect for busy schedules; take the traditional, in class route if you know you may need additional support.
Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the mentality that you have to work at someone else’s pace. Slow and steady is much better than to get burned out and stressed and end up slipping. And it’s okay if you have to change your approach if something isn’t working for you: just keep your eyes on the end goal and keep going.
#3: Meet with an Advisor
Once you’ve got a good idea of what you want to do, the next step to getting back into school is meeting with an advisor. Schedule a school tour or an advisory meeting so you can determine exactly what you need to do to accomplish your educational goals. Your advisor can open your eyes to opportunities and options you may not be aware of, including scholarships and assistance with financial aid.
Meeting with an advisor also helps to keep you accountable. They are there to perform the same role as your therapists and counselors: to guide you and keep you on the path to the future of your dreams.
#4: Set Up Your Schooling Schedule
You’re so close now! All you need to do is finalize your school schedule. When you’re considering what classes to take during your first semester, think about this:
- Dedicate at least 2 hours per course per week for homework assignments and projects. Use this guideline to determine how many courses you should take.
- Keep your schedule balanced. Don’t wait until last minute to tackle those classes you’re not exactly looking forward to- it just makes it harder to finish.
- Be mindful of your other obligations. Don’t neglect your ongoing therapy or group.
#5: Stay Consistent
The most important part about getting back into school is consistency. That’s why you have to be just as dedicated as you are to your sobriety to your education. Motivation is fleeting, which is why people give up before they reach their goals. Just as in recovery, you can’t allow hiccups to become roadblocks.
I’ve been attempting to get my Bachelor’s degree for nearly 8 years. I started my college journey taking only one course a year because that’s all I could afford out of pocket and I did not qualify for financial aid. Once I was able to get federal grants, I took advantage of it to up my course load. I am once again without financial aid, but my commitment to completing my degree will not allow that to stand in my way.