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The Essential Checklist for Going Back to College

Wondering how to get back into college? A checklist is a handy and helpful tool. It helps us remember what not to forget. It helps us prepare for what we have planned. It helps us achieve where we’d like to succeed. If you’re going back to college after dropping out, this checklist will show you how to get ready to go back to college.


  • Investigate your options, including conducting online research, talking to others who’ve gone back to college, and meeting with admissions counselors.
  • Choose the school and degree program that’s right for you.
  • Ask about entrance requirements, such as letters of recommendations and test scores.
  • Request official copies of high school and/or college transcripts and ACT, SAT or other required test scores.
  • Meet with an admissions counselor to discuss tuition plans, financial aid and scholarships. Make sure to ask whether you’re eligible for “life experience” credit.

Plan & Apply.

  • Set a monthly household budget. In additional to regular monthly expenses, be sure to include tuition, books and college-related incidentals.
  • Submit state and federal financial aid and/or scholarship applications, if eligible and necessary.
  • Complete college admissions application(s).

Schedule & Organize. 

  • Purchase a paper or electronic calendar. Block out anything and everything that’s set in stone, including work hours, family commitments, social obligations and class time.
  • Decide how many hours a week you will need to study. Schedule study time on your calendar—and then stick to the schedule.
  • Have a family meeting to talk about how going back to college will affect everyone. Delegate as many household responsibilities as possible, such as meals, errands and chores.

Brush Up.

  • Refresh your skills in areas where you need a little extra help, such as:
    • studying
    • time management
    • technology
    • taking tests

In the Classroom.

  • Introduce yourself to your instructors. This will make it easier to discuss assignments or seek help.
  • Make friends with other students. Share notes, study together and socialize a bit so you can build a support network for when you need it.
  • Ask. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help from instructors, advisors and other students.
  • Keep up with assignments, reading and homework. Avoid cram sessions.
  • Have fun learning.

More Back-to-College Tips

Ready to talk to an advisor about going back to college and finishing your degree? Click the banner below, and we'll be in touch shortly! And don't worry - we're quite friendly, and our job is to help you - not pressure you. Click below and get in touch now.

Free Guide:
Where to Find Free Money to go Back to School
Learn how to get grants to cut college costs.