Help for adult students returning to college

Man studying with book and laptop

Happy New Year! Last year brought plenty of challenges and change, including to University of Wisconsin–Madison Continuing Studies. Due to economic impacts from the pandemic, our department will no longer offer career services to the broader community. Instead, we’ll be turning our focus to the many questions, challenges and opportunities for returning adult students in a new column: The Lifelong Learner.

In the coming months, you’ll be introduced to Continuing Studies’ knowledgeable student service coordinators, who advise returning adult students. You’ll also hear from career counselors who specialize in helping adult students make the transition from college to career. We look forward to sharing the wisdom of these experienced professionals with you.

headshot of Moira Kelley
Career counselor Moira Kelley,  here to answer questions from returning adult students.

When we talk about returning adult students in Adult Career and Special Student Services (ACSSS) at Continuing Studies, we’re talking about students who have had some sort of break in their education, perhaps due to military service, career or family responsibilities or simply because they weren’t ready to continue their education after high school. Some of our adult students have little college experience, others are seeking specialized training, while still others are ready to finish an undergraduate degree or begin graduate school.

The Lifelong Learner is here to help address the questions we receive from returning adult students and to offer helpful tips to those continuing their education journey. Information presented here will fall into four broad categories:

Returning to college. Beginning or returning to college as an adult is not something most people take lightly. How will this new responsibility fit into your personal and professional life? We’ll share success stories from students who have made this journey.

Educational opportunities. A four-year college degree isn’t the goal for everyone. Perhaps you need to take a noncredit course to maintain a professional licensure or to build your skills. Maybe you need training to broaden your career options. Or perhaps you’re considering a career change that requires a second bachelor’s or master’s degree. We can walk you through the many options.

Support resources. Once you’ve made the decision to return to school, how do you apply? How do you know what degree or training is right for you, and how can you find scholarships or loans to help you pay for it? Our student services coordinators have the answers to these and other questions.

Job search. You’ve completed your education or training — now what? Our career counselors can connect you with information about internships, networking and resumes to help you land the job you want.

We’d love to hear your questions and ideas for The Lifelong Learner. What are you interested in learning more about? In the meantime, thank you for starting this new journey with us. We’re glad you’re here.

The Lifelong Learner is a monthly feature written by UW–Madison’s Continuing Studies staff. Moira Kelley, a career counselor, can be reached at moira.kelley@wisc.edu. This article first appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal on January 10, 2021.