Going back to school as an adult in recovery can be daunting, but this may be an opportune time to reach new goals. Much of the focus in early recovery is spent on learning how to stay clean, but next comes re-evaluating your new sober lifestyle. Here are some tips and inspiration for those thinking about taking the plunge and heading back to school.
Like recovery, school is a serious commitment. It requires patience, hard work, and perseverance. While there are many benefits to getting your education goals on track, there are a number of challenges to overcome as well. Consider the expenses, the time commitment and the concerns about difficult coursework. On the other hand, pursuing your education is a meaningful activity that can help you to avoid triggers. It can provide a wealth of new opportunities to improve your life both financially and mentally.
Concerns and reservations are not unusual for adults returning to school. The good news is that these barriers are surmountable if you take these tips into consideration:
1. Think through the financing.
Compare the tuition and enrollment fees of different schools and degrees. Don’t forget to factor in miscellaneous expenses like textbooks and transportation. Look at your current spending to see if any funds could be reallocated toward school. There are many high-quality community colleges and online universities that are less expensive to attend. If you’re working, find out if you’re eligible for employer tuition assistance. Check out the list of federal grants and apply for scholarships that target adult students.
2. Balance your time.
Adult students are more likely to have work and family obligations. If you work full-time, the flexibility of an online degree or night school may be a good fit for you. For adults who are also in recovery, it’s important to prioritize your 12-Step meetings. Remember to always maintain a self-care routine, especially as it relates to your recovery.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Your support network is essential when you embark on a new challenge. This can include your partner, friends, parents, coworkers, fellow students, teachers or your sponsor. If you’re struggling with a particular course or finding it too hard to balance it all, be sure to reach out to your support network for help.
As you develop your plan, remember to ask yourself these important questions:
- Why are you going to school? What degree would you like to have?
- Would you need a GED or can you apply to college immediately?
- What are the required standardized tests?
- How will you pay for the degree?
- Do you have any credits from a previous institution that you can transfer?
- Would it be better to be a full-time or part-time student?
The decision to return to school as an adult is one that you won’t make lightly. While there are risks and sacrifices involved, there are also great rewards. New knowledge, new experiences and new opportunities can enrich your life and help you move forward in your recovery journey. As always, the Cedar House community is here to support you along the way.
If you or someone you love is having difficulty achieving lifelong goals like continued education because of substance use or co-occurring mental health issues, Cedar House is here to help. Call us today at 909-421-7120.