Why Going Back to School Shouldn't Scare You

Follow the rules for survival, and you’ll come out ahead.

Students in hawks nest

Starting a degree program doesn’t have to be scary! Just like a good horror movie, a few good survival suggestions can help you make it through, and even succeed in your educational endeavors. If you’re considering going back to school to finish a bachelor’s degree or start a graduate program, check out these horror-themed tips for academic success. They may sound spooky, but we promise they’re all treats, no tricks.

Don’t split up

How many times do characters in a horror movie decide they’ll have a better chance of survival by breaking away from the group? How many times has that strategy worked? It’s common horror movie knowledge: if you want to get through the night, there’s strength in numbers.

Finishing a degree, especially if you already have a career or a family, can feel like an uphill struggle sometimes. That’s why it’s important that you have a support system around you, whether it’s family, friends, fellow students, or KUEC faculty and staff. Don’t go it alone! Identify the strengths of the people around you, and know who you can go to when you need help with a project, a scholarship application, a practicum placement or just some solid moral support.

Listen to the weird local you met on the way in

We all know this character. They could be the creepy old-timer at the gas station warning you about the haunted cabin on the hill (you know, the one you’re headed to for that weekend getaway at the lake), or the strange woman on the porch telling you to be careful, because there’s not a town around for miles. The main characters never pay attention to the warnings, but later, they’ll wish they had.

In the world of higher education, this is your academic or financial advisor; but we promise, they aren’t here to freak you out! Make sure you meet with them before you begin your program to figure out financial aid and plan your classes. Some of what they say might sound strange, but pay attention! Their advice comes from experience, and they’re here to help ensure that you’re set up not just to start your education journey at KUEC, but to see it through to the end.

Be prepared to fight the bad guy more than once.

There are 11 “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th" movies, four “Scream” movies and eight “Nightmare on Elm Streets.” Every time we think Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers are dead, they always come back for more.

The same rule applies to academics. Hands-on learning means you’ll sometimes run into problems that it takes several attempts to solve. Just because you’ve turned in a project or a paper, don’t assume you’ll never look at it again! The more mentally prepared you are for revisions, roadblocks or a trip back to the drawing board, the easier it will be to tackle them when they pop up.

Make informed decisions

Horror movie characters aren’t known for making the smartest choices. They go into the definitely haunted basement. They stop for directions at the house in the middle of nowhere — the one where a killer almost certainly lives. In short, horror movie characters often make decisions directed by bad instincts, and not based on the information at hand.

Don’t be like a horror movie character when it comes to your degree! Make smart choices. Before you start a degree program, do some research on what kind of program is right for you, and what the long-term benefits will be. Attend an info session for a degree program you’re interested in, meet instructors and find out program details. Sit down with an academic advisor and discuss your schedule. Talk with a financial advisor about how to pay for your degree, and with your employer about possible tuition assistance options.

Take responsibility

In a horror movie, the characters who fail to do their jobs always end up as dead meat. Think of irresponsible camp counselors, babysitters watching TV or calling a boyfriend when they should be checking the kids, or the guy on overnight zombie watch duty who just can’t seem to keep his eyes open. The lesson is simple: if you stay focused and do your job to the best of your ability, you’ll be ok. If you don’t, someone could get hurt — or worse.

Unsurprisingly, responsibility and focus are also key to a successful academic or professional career. Whether you’re completing your undergraduate degree or advancing your career with graduate studies, going back to school represents a commitment to being the best version of yourself you can be. Bring that energy to every project, assignment or test, and remember to take advantage of the resources around you to help you achieve your goals.

Still scared to go back to school? Check out these resources for adults heading back to the classroom.

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