Overcoming the Fear of Going Back to School

By Jacqie Monk - March 15th, 2017

Have you ever thought about returning to school, but worried that it would be too hard? Take too long? Or that you just couldn’t do it? Those fears are absolutely normal, but they shouldn’t hold you back from reaching your potential.

In today’s post, CSU Global student, Jacqie Monk, outlines four commonly held fears that prevent people from going back to school. She goes on to address these fears and emphasize the resources, services, and payoffs available to overcome and achieve.

going back to college

If you’ve been out of school for five, ten, or even 20+ years, chances are you’ll feel some anxiety about returning to the classroom. I know these fears and feelings all too well…

“Can I meet the time commitment necessary? Can I learn new concepts? Can I afford a degree? And how long is it really going to take to complete?”

You’re definitely not alone in your fear of going back to school, but you can overcome it to achieve your educational goals. The key to working through your fears is to address them with facts and logic. Keep reading to see how you can conquer four common fears, and enjoy some inspirational quotes to keep you going strong.

“The only thing that will stop you from fulfilling your dreams is you.” –Tom Bradley

Fear #1: The Time Commitment

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” – Napoleon Hill

Work, family, and other obligations can make for an already busy schedule, making it hard to imagine adding anything else to your plate. However, you may be able to balance school and work more easily with these tips:

  • Prioritize what needs to get done each day.
  • Choose five days a week to devote to your coursework and then spend at least four hours each day on academics.
  • Keep a weekly schedule to ensure you have enough time to complete your assignments and get the most out of your education.
  • Turn off the T.V. and invest in yourself! You won’t remember the show you watched in less than a week, but you’ll cherish the knowledge you gained forever.

Fear #2:  Learning New Concepts

“There is no shame in not knowing something. The shame is in not being willing to learn.”- Alison Croggon

The unknown is always scary, but it may be terrifying for adult learners. Being out of school for a few years naturally raises questions about how things have changed. It’s common to feel anxiety about being able to learn new concepts or keep up with innovations.

The good news is that most universities assign each student an advisor who can help answer questions, address concerns, and provide resources. Additionally, there are many other student services typically available to ensure your success. Universities understand these common concerns and that’s why student services have become so important for students.

Here are just some of the services your university should offer…

  • Tutoring.
  • Technical support.
  • Writing center.
  • Career center.
  • Disability services.
  • Student discounts.

Be sure to take advantage of the resources available to you for a smooth transition back to college.

Fear #3: The Cost of Higher Education

“The best investment you can make is in yourself.” – Warren Buffett

Life is expensive and adding additional bills to an already tight budget makes completing your degree seem out of reach, right?


Financial concerns are legitimate; however, they should not keep you from going back to school. Financial options including grants, loans, scholarships, and payment plans are available for students to complete their education affordably. Speak to your adviser or the university’s financial aid office to discover how you can lessen the financial burden of education with the right resources.

Fear #4: The Time to Complete Your Degree

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”- Earl Nightingale

Most bachelor’s degrees take about four years to complete, which may seem like forever when you have a family to take care of and an already demanding work schedule. However, studies show that it is definitely worth it.

…people with a four-year degree make 98% more an hour on average than people without a degree.

A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute and reported in the New York Times, shows that people with a four-year degree make 98% more an hour on average than people without a degree. As the income gap between degree holders and non-degree holders grows, the four years or less necessary to be on the higher earning side becomes more attractive.

Those statistics were reason enough for me to bite the bullet and stick it out. Why not work harder for four years of your life to live more comfortably for the foreseeable future?

Again, it’s normal to have fears about going back to college, but you can overcome them to have the future you desire. Utilize the resources available and reach out for help. You’re not alone and no one expects you to earn your degree without some assistance – that’s exactly why these resources exist.

Challenge yourself and jump back into education. A year from now you could be a year closer to earning your degree, landing your dream job, and earning 98% more.

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