Thomas Edison State University By Thomas Edison State University • April 24, 2013

What to Consider if You Are Preparing to Come Back to College

Every day, I talk to adults about coming back to college.

One of the most important things I tell them is that they can finish their degree without sacrificing their personal and professional responsibilities, but they have to be willing to do the work. It is not easy, but it is doable.

Many adults run their own businesses, supervise employees, raise children and manage personal or corporate finances and still find time to come back to college and finish their degree. If you are a busy adult who is thinking about coming back to college, my best advice is to be thoughtful about your needs before selecting an institution.

Today, there are many options designed for adult learners that go way beyond online courses and taking classes at night or on weekends. First and foremost, academic integrity, quality and flexibility are key items that any college or university should have. 


The academic quality of any institution is directly tied to its accreditation, which is an independent review of a school’s educational programs to determine that the education provided is of uniform and sound quality. An institution that has earned accreditation ensures that it has met established standards of quality determined by the organization granting the accreditation.

The most recognized and accepted type of accreditation in the United States is regional accreditation. There are six geographic regions of the United States with an agency that regionally accredits college and university higher education programs:

For more information about institutional quality and accreditation, visit the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity website. 

Academic Programs

In addition, it is important to determine how a school offers its academic programs.

  • Do its programs work around your schedule?
  • How does the school define flexible?
  • What learning options are available, in addition to a traditional classroom setting?
  • Does the school offer the program you want and in the format you need?

Your Needs

Remember that you have different needs today than you had when you were a fresh-faced teen who just graduated from high school. You may have earned college credits at another institution or acquired college-level knowledge can be applied as college credit toward a degree. That said, it is important to consider:

The answers to these questions can serve as a guide to selecting a school that is a good match for the prospective adult student.

Thomas Edison State University

Written by Thomas Edison State University

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