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Transitioning back to formal education 20+ years after receiving a Bachelor's degree

So you are thinking of going back to school for an advanced degree, huh? That was me a few years ago.  Don’t worry!  It’s not that bad – in fact, it’s kind of fun!

I am presently 6 credits from graduating, and as much as I’m ready to be done, when I’m done, I know I will miss being “back in school”.  It has been awesome being in class again, learning new things, meeting new people and feeling the satisfaction of making progress toward a goal that I’ve had for a long time.

My program is 100% on line, and for me, that was exactly what I wanted and needed at this point in my life.  I LOVE the fact that I can do my schoolwork when I want and for how long I want at one sitting.  I am so happy that I don’t have to waste time driving back and forth to a campus, and that I can get a little schoolwork done here and there – when I’m in the mood and have time versus when a class is pre-scheduled and mandatory to attend.

Whether you do an on-line program or a traditional classroom program.

Here are a few key pointers to make the transition easier:

  • Develop a plan for when you will do your schoolwork and stick to the plan! If you are like most, your life is more complex now than 20 years ago.  Many people have family commitments, most people are also still working full time, and then there’s the rest of life.  We need to make time to eat healthy/exercise, participate in hobbies/volunteer work, spend time with your spouse/partner and friends, and don’t forget sleep! Here’s an example of my plan:
  • Sunday/Monday – read
  • Tuesday lunch – homework
  • Wednesday evening– homework
  • Thursday lunch – homework
  • Thursday evening – goal:  finish all homework
  • Saturday am – finalize anything outstanding
  • Embrace the technological advancements that have come about since we were in school! It is a wonderful thing that all I need is my computer and I’m ready to do schoolwork anytime/anywhere. At first I was still buying textbooks, but I’ve even made the transition to buying all of my books on line. I was also taking notes manually at first, but I rarely do that anymore. Word, Excel and PowerPoint and the tools/programs provided by the university give me all I need for documentation/analysis.

  • Manage your time well for on-line exams. This is probably the most stressful part for me. I’m worried I’ll run out of time (and almost have in the beginning). First, be sure to study and organize yourself by having your notes handy/open before you start the exam. Pre-calculate how much time you can spend per question. Remember the old advice to quickly do the questions you know and then come back for the rest. You will have the ability to “flag” questions that you want to come back to, so take advantage of that. Keep an eye on the clock. Don’t forget to make sure your computer is plugged into a power source and that you have a good internet connection!

  • Leverage the resources provided by the university. The advisors and student liaisons are there to support you and want you to succeed.  Let them help if you run into problems!

    Best wishes to you on your journey back to school!   If I can do it, you can do it!  With a little planning, discipline and an open mind to learn and adapt to new methods of studying and exams, I am confident you will do great!

About the Author

Deb Laudenslager

Deb holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering from Penn State University and is expecting to graduate from The University of Scranton with an MBA in 2017. In 2015, Deb retired after a 28-year career with The Hershey Company. Throughout Deb’s career she worked in Manufacturing, Industrial Engineering, and Finance.

While in manufacturing, her work was focused on optimizing operations in positions ranging from Industrial Engineer to Plant Manager. Deb also worked in corporate functions in her career. As Director, Industrial Engineering she led a team who worked on operational improvements, product profitability analysis, and supply chain optimization. She also spent several years in finance roles such as business analyst and her most recent role, Director of Capital Administration where she was charged with managing the corporate capital budget.

Outside of work, Deb enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, attending Penn State football games, traveling with friends, and has a passion for volunteering and mentoring youth. Deb has held several roles in the Institute of Industrial Engineers, including being on the Board of Directors.

Discover how The University of Scranton online Master of Business Administration (MBA) can make a difference in your life. Request more information or speak with one of our Program Managers at 866-373-9547.