How to Return to College After Dropping Out: 7 Tips for Students


If you’re thinking about going back to college after dropping out, you probably have some hesitations. Navigating college, especially after dropping out, can be a difficult thing to do and can be intimidating at times. But, there are many reasons why you may choose to return to school–maybe you want a career change, or to learn new skills for your current career. Whatever your personal reasons for going back to college are, the process can be nerve-racking. Luckily, universities have more accommodation for returning students today than ever before. To make your return to college as easy a process as possible, implement these tips to be confident and ready for your transition back into higher education.

  • Identify why you want to return to college

It’s important to identify your reasoning for going back to school before you start. Do you want a career change? To pursue your dream job? To make more money? All of the above? Most college students have several reasons why they want to earn their degree–you probably do, too. Whatever your goals are, it’s a good idea to keep them at the forefront of your mind while you go through college. Reviewing your motivations to succeed on a regular basis will encourage you to complete your goals!

  • Have a healthy balance between work, life, and school

Many college students hold a part-time, and sometimes a full-time, job while they attend school. Because college is often a large expense, this is necessary for a lot of students. Many students have jobs in the evening so they can attend class during the day. Others attend class at night or online so they can keep a day job. If you’re going to be working while attending school, you’ll want to be sure to maintain a healthy balance of work, school, and your personal life. Of course, it’s normal to be busy and have a healthy amount of stress while in school, but too much can quickly lead to burnout. So, it’s important to manage your time as successfully as possible.

  • Apply for FAFSA and scholarships 

Paying for college out-of-pocket can put a strain on your finances. This is why most students (84%, in fact) use some form of financial aid to help them pay for tuition. To receive financial aid, you’ll have to fill out the Federal Application for Financial Student Aid. You can also apply to any scholarships you may be eligible for to receive additional financial benefits and take as much financial stress away as possible. 

  • Use your resources 

When you’re back in school, you’ll likely have a list of resources available to you, such as an academic advisor. This person will answer any questions you have about anything regarding your college experience, as well as register you for classes. You will also have resources regarding financial aid and career guidance.  All of these resources available to you exist to make your college experience as smooth as possible–take advantage of them!

  • Find a support system

It’s important to have a support system of people in your life who want to help you succeed. These people may be friends, family, or coworkers. Whomever it may be, having a supportive person or group of people to help encourage you on the path to graduation can make all the difference. 

  • Maximize your transfer credits

Maximizing your transfer credits is an important aspect of going back to school. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most amount of credits as possible if you’re going to a different school. You can talk to your academic advisor to make sure you’re getting the most out of your previous college credits. This way, you’ll be able to take less classes and graduate sooner!

  • Consider part-time enrollment

Going back to college can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you haven’t been to school in a considerable amount of time. You may want to consider attending part-time rather than full-time, at least while you’re starting out. This will give you time to adjust and get back into the “flow” of being back in school.