Returning to college after you’ve dropped out is truly a courageous decision. Congratulations on taking this important step. You may have dropped off for multiple reasons, but deciding to get back to your studies will surely help you complete your higher education and jumpstart your career again.

If you’re feeling the jitters of attending the first day of college and are not sure what to expect, don’t worry. We’re here to help you! Team CollegEnroll has collected a set of handy back to school tips that will help you ace the first few weeks of your return to college. Let’s dive right in!

Having decided to return to college after dropping out, here’s what you can expect on your first day back:

  1. Orientation: To begin with, most colleges will introduce you to various orientation programs that will help returning students, like yourself, acclimate to campus life. During these days, you will be required to attend orientation sessions where you will receive information about academic policies, campus resources, and any other important details.
  1. Registration and Paperwork: Next, you will need to complete your registration formalities and update your personal information and  necessary documentation. This process varies depending on the college and program you are entering.
  1. Meeting with Advisors: You should meet your academic advisor who can guide you in choosing courses, mapping out your academic plan, and addressing any questions you may have. These advisors ensure that you are on track to meet your academic goals.
  1. Campus Tour: In case you haven’t been to the campus before for any reason or if it has changed since you last attended, you may take the chance to take a campus tour. This helps you become familiar with your surroundings and with the location of important buildings, such as classrooms, libraries, administrative offices etc.
  1. Class Selection: You may need to select and enroll in classes for the current semester, depending on the timing of your return. Use the guidance of your academic advisor to choose courses that align with your academic goals and fit your schedule.
  1. Meeting fellow students: Your first day back is an opportunity for you to meet other students who are starting their college journey. You should use  this opportunity to introduce yourself, strike up conversations, and potentially make new friends. Remember that many students may also be returning after a break, so you’re not alone in this experience.
  1. Getting familiar with campus resources: Take some time to explore and familiarize yourself with various resources available on campus. This may include libraries, computer labs, health centers, tutoring services, counseling services, and student organizations. Knowing where to find help and support will be valuable throughout your college journey.

As you’re back to school after a break, you may be able to leverage transfer credits from your prior educational experience. Let’s get a deeper understanding on how to make the most of these. 

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In layman’s language, transfer credits are academic credits that you earn for completed coursework at one educational institution. These credits can be applied towards your degree program at another institution. 

Whether you have previously studied at a two-year community college or a four-year university or even between universities, when you seek a transfer from one college to another, your previously earned credits may be evaluated for transfer.

In other good news, you are also eligible to receive college credits for work experience, military service, or through credit by examination programs.

Some common methods of earning these credits are:

  1. Prior Learning Assessment (PLA): Some colleges and universities offer PLA programs that allow you to showcase your knowledge and skills acquired through work experience, military training, or other non-traditional learning experiences. This assessment may involve completing exams, creating portfolios, or even undergoing evaluations by faculty members. If you can demonstrate proficiency in certain subject areas, you may be awarded college credits.
  1. Credit for Military Experience: In case you have served in the military, your experiences and training may be considered for college credit. The American Council on Education (ACE) provides recommendations on how military training can be translated into college credits. 
  1. Credit by Examination: A few colleges may also offer credit by examination programs which would allow you to earn credits by passing standardized tests, such as the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), Advanced Placement (AP) exams, or the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams. These exams assess your understanding of certain subjects, and if you achieve a passing score in those, you can earn college credits.
  1. Industry Certifications: Certain professional certifications, such as Microsoft certifications, or Project Management Professional (PMP) certifications, may be recognized by colleges as a proof of expertise in specific fields. You may also be able to earn college credits by presenting these certifications, depending on the institution’s policies. 

Remember that the availability and acceptance of credits earned through these mediums can vary from institution to institution.

Now let’s look at some handy back-to-school tips to make the most out of your experience.

Navigating your first day back at college need not be as overwhelming as it may seem. Here’s a handy back to school checklist to guide you:

  1. Get prepared: Start by assembling all your necessary items in one single place. This could include your identification documents, a notebook, paper and pens, a laptop computer, a campus map, your class schedule, and any course material specified by your professors.
  1. Arrive early: Familiarize yourself with the campus layout and plan your route to your classes in advance. If you aim to arrive on campus early, you might be able to avoid feeling rushed or stressed. This will also give you ample time to find your classrooms, locate important facilities, and settle in before your first class begins.
  1. Dress comfortably: You might wonder what you should wear on your first day of college. We recommend wearing comfortable clothing and shoes that are appropriate for the day. While dress codes may vary depending by college, it is generally a good idea to dress neatly and comfortably for your first day.
  1. Introduce yourself: Taking initiative will get you noticed. Introduce yourself to your professors and fellow classmates confidently. Be friendly and open to making new connections. Remember, everyone is in the same boat on the first day.
  1. Take notes and listen actively: During your classes, note down all important information, assignments, and deadlines. Actively participating in discussions, asking questions, and staying engaged are some of the best ways to make the most out of your learning experience.
  1. Familiarize yourself with campus resources: It is a good idea to take the time to locate key campus resources like the library, computer labs, academic support services, health center, and student organizations. Knowing where to find these resources early on can prove to be beneficial throughout your college journey.
  1. Go beyond the textbook curriculum and explore extracurricular activities: Check out the various organizations, committees, clubs and any other extracurricular activities available on campus. Getting involved can enrich your college experience and help you meet like-minded people with similar interests.

It isn’t unusual to feel out of place during the first few days of your return to college. You might wonder what to wear to college, what to bring to college, if you can sit in on college classes and how to approach peers who may be a bit or a lot younger than you. Well, trust us, these are just temporary jitters that will pass before you know it. 

Here are some pro-tips to overcome the fear of being ‘older’ than your peers.

  1. Embrace your experience: First and foremost, remember that your age and life experiences bring a unique perspective to the college environment. You might come with valuable insights and knowledge that can contribute to class discussions and group projects. Embrace your background and use it as an advantage.
  1. Connect with like-minded individuals: There could be other students who would share similar interests or goals. Seek them out so that you can form connections with people who appreciate your experiences and can relate to your situation. Participating in clubs, organizations, or activities that align with your interests may be a great first step in this direction.
  1. Be open and approachable: Being open to building relationships with students of all ages is vital to having a pleasant college experience. Don’t let age become a barrier in forming friendships or connections. Remember, everyone is in college to learn and grow, regardless of age.
  1. Focus on shared experiences: Instead of dwelling on the age difference, focus on shared experiences and common goals like obtaining a degree or pursuing your academic interests. Engaging in conversations about coursework, projects, or campus activities will help you build positive connections.
  1. Seek support networks or from family and friends: Colleges often have resources and support networks for non-traditional or older students. Reach out to student support services, such as academic advisors, counseling services, or student organizations specifically designed for mature students. Alternatively, you can also share your concerns and fears with your friends and family members who can provide encouragement, offer valuable perspective, and remind you of your strengths and abilities.
  1. Be confident in yourself: Recognize your own value and strength. Remember that age is just a number, and what matters most is your determination to learn and grow. You should remain confident in your abilities and contributions, and keep reminding yourself of the reasons why you returned to college.

Going back to college is quite a brave decision as an adult learner. While you may feel a little out of place initially, it wouldn;t be hard for you to settle in if you keep an open mind and make an effort to connect with like-minded peers. Remember to seek help from your instructors, academic advisor, support groups, or your friends whenever you feel the need for it, and we’re sure you’ll ace your college game pretty soon. We wish you the best!

If you didn’t find what you’re looking for in this article, feel free to explore ‘Our Classroom’ for more information on education. 

Q: How many college credits is full-time?

College students are considered to be enrolled full-time if they take at least 12 courses every semester.

Q: How many college credits are part-time?

Undergraduate students who study part-time take 11 or fewer credits every semester. However, part-time graduate students often take fewer than nine credits every semester.

Q: What are transfer credits?

Colleges and universities use the words transfer credit, credit transfer, or advanced standing to describe the process of providing credit to a student for educational experiences or courses completed at another school.

Q: Do college credits expire?

Credits do not expire. However, their chance of transferring into a program may decrease with time.

For example, major class credits are evergreen as they can be easily transferred between schools. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) courses have a shelf life of 10 years while graduate courses can be transferred for 7 years.

Q: Do online degrees require the same number of credits as an in-person degree?

Despite their shorter time, online and on-campus degree programs share the exact requirements, learning goals, and instructors. As a result, you must still finish the same amount of credit hours.

Q: How many credits can you transfer?

In most cases, 60 credits from a community or two-year college, or 60-90 credits from a combination of two and four-year colleges, may be utilized toward the degree.