So not sure who knows this or not but I am a student. I am not your “traditional” student between the ages of 18-23. I am turning 30 years old this June and will be graduating next May. Returning to school has been a few things to me. It has been challenging, sacrificing time away from family, and rewarding. Being a part of New York University has allowed me some really great opportunities and has taught me so much about myself in just the short time I have been there. I would like to share my tips to all those non- traditional student returning to school. These of course are things that I have personally found helpful in my own experience and are based on my personal opinions.
- Communication: One of the first things I did when making the choice of going back to school was communicating with my spouse. I have been dating my fiancé for 7 years now and been living together with him and my son for about 4 years. My fiancé was very supportive in my decision and was actually a big part of making my decision easier to go back and finish school. I think it is important for people to have communication with either their significant other, parent or anyone in their group of circle that they trust to talk with. Having a really good support system and someone that you can talk to about your goals and passions with is very important. Having a full- time job, a son and a being in a committed relationship was already a lot of work. Dedicating my time as a student was just another thing to juggle which leads into my next bullet point.
- Dedication: If you are planning on going back to school, I think it is important to realize the time and dedication it takes to be an adult student. I will always be grateful for my other half in making it possible to become a part- time employee and a full- time student. I know not everyone may be able to do that and there are a lot of people who go to school part- time/ work full- time or work full- time and be a full- time student as well and do great. I made that specific choice for myself because I wanted to make sure I would still have time to spend with my son and give my family the attention they deserved. Going to a school like NYU or any university for that matter requires so much more dedication. Taking four or five classes at a time can be very stressful and challenging at the same time. GPA is something that becomes very important for employers when hiring new students. If you are looking to be in a specific industry, I would also advise to look at internships in those fields to get an idea of what types of GPAs they are looking for in their candidates.
- Network: One of the main reasons I chose to go from an online university to a traditional campus university was this specific thing. Having worked in Corporate America for almost 10 years, I know just how important it is to network. As a student, it can be a bit easier to build a network if you have a plan. This is not to say that you cannot find promotion or networking events in a company but it is much more difficult in a major corporation with hundreds of employees all scattered in different departments. Networking at a campus can be easy if you make time to become involved. Signing up for newsletters would be the easiest way for people who cannot afford the time to be on campus as much. This will keep you informed about the events that the campus is having and that way you can pick, choose, and plan accordingly. Of course, you many not be able to attend all events but more often than not, you can always find a time to go to an event. Once you go to a few events, you may even begin to see the same faces because, just like you and me, they are too trying to expand their network and meet new people.
- Don’t be shy: By this I mean, do not be shy to use all resources that the school provides. I mean ALL! (You are paying to attend your school so you should use the resources they provide) For example, my school has a career center, career fairs, exclusive events only for students (Ted Talks, Important speakers & guest, student discounts, and much more), free wifi ( I mean HELLO, who wants to use their own data!!), etc.. you get the point. I have personally used my career center many times for different things. I have gone to employer presentations (basically an employer, lets say NBC, comes and speaks to students about potential employment or internships and usually provides special links to apply to), had them review and fix my resume, applied for programs that I didn’t think I would get into but did anyways. If you are not shy about using the resources that the school provides for its students, you will most likely miss out on great opportunities. I was actually able to go with 30 other students to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. and meet with members of Congress. I mean c’mon, if I had not signed up for the newsletters, not applied for the trip to D.C. I would have missed out on that great experience and not have built a connection with those individuals.
- Have Fun: I can honestly say, that as stressful as I may get about my grades and classes at times, I absolutely love being a student again. I don’t know if I appreciate it more because I am much more mature and have gained life and work experience or if its just because I am that much of a nerd. I love the opportunities that I can get through being a student, making new friends, learning about things that I may have taken for granted before, and much more. I recently became the Social Media Chair for my particular school at NYU (you know NYU has A LOT of schools), and I cannot wait to start my role and being involved in that. I will basically gain knowledge, experience and work with others in marketing (which is my major btw) doing what I basically do on my personal time which is being on social media. Of course with a bit more of an agenda, but still. Again, if I didn’t make time to become more involved in school, find ways to be involved and network, I probably would have never gotten this role. Just enjoy it and have fun.
At the end of the day, you define the level of your own success by what you do and how hard you work towards achieving your goals. My version of success may be different from others and vice versa. I hope my own experience and opinion was helpful in anyway to anyone who may have read this. Its 1am and I have to be at work at 8am tomorrow so I should go to sleep. Until next post….