We have recently discussed the reasons many young professionals are going back to school after a few years in the workforce. While the pros to going back to school are plentiful, there are definitely some cons to be conscious of, as we highlighted last week. After approaching a few YPs who went back to school, we have a few ways to make the adjustment as stress free as possible.
Don’t have the same mentality as you did the first time around
Maintain the adult mentality you’ve developed since you last hit the books; it will only set you back otherwise. You are old enough to act your age and going back to school was assumingly your decision, not something you felt pressured or expected to do because of your parents’ expectations or because your peers were opting to. As such, you don’t need to revert back to your party-loving, carefree college days. Steer clear of frat parties and frosh week (you’d be surprised at how many in their late 20s admit to still participating in the week). Even if you are graced with generous parents with the means to help you out financially during this time, don’t go back to relying on mom and dad for everything. Finally, don’t gain the “freshman 15” all over again – it will be much more difficult to lose this time around. Don’t go back to surviving off of frozen dinners or being on a first name basis with the pizza deliveryman.
Learn to Budget
Once we start making money after a few years in the workforce, many YPs become somewhat liberal in their spending to reward themselves for all of their hard work. The truth is that going back to school requires a major lifestyle change for most young professionals. Once common outings like dinners out, charity events and shopping trips may become luxuries. The good news is that there are likely less opportunities to spend the money you don’t have in the first place, since evenings out after work will likely be replaced with studying, group meetings and assignments. It is therefore essential to consciously budget. Whether you allow yourself a certain amount to spent per day or per week, or break spending down by category (entertainment, groceries, bills), be more responsible with the money you do have than when you were in your university days.
Have a positive attitude
It’s easy to get down and out when at school, especially when you see all of your friends and former business associates reaping the fruits of their labour. You may very well hate the whole process of going back to school. It may cause stress to your relationship. Exams may be anxiety-inducing. The key is to know and constantly remind yourself that it is temporary and for the better in the long run. Focus on the benefits, like having the holidays off as well as reading week in February, or not having to wear a rigid suit or skirt. The guys don’t even have to shave if they don’t want to. Plus, breaks between classes mean you can hit the gym during the day, before the evening crowd filters in. While you enjoy what it has to offer and keep your eye on the prize.
Suck up your pride
Remember that you may have to do things you probably don’t want to and start at the bottom in certain respects. For fields like PR, advertising and marketing, an internship is usually required, whether you are 30 years old or 22. Though you won’t be accountable to bosses, remember you are accountable to your teacher or professor, and treat them with the respect of your boss. Don’t do things like be on your smart phone during class, talk during lecture, or openly argue about grades the way you once may have.
Don’t sever your ties with the workforce
Don’t isolate yourself from the workforce for the time that you are in school. When your schedule does allow, attend industry events with friends or former co-workers. Join industry associations and societies like the CPRS or the IABC for PR professionals. If you can fit it in, volunteer at industry-related events and attend conferences. Make a point to meet for dinner with former or potential bosses and coworkers.