Advice for the Whole Family

“Returning to School” Advice You Probably Give your Kids, but Don’t Follow Yourself

By Tim Churchill, District Outreach Coordinator
Community Colleges of Spokane

The advice we give others is often what we need to hear. So as you get excited about sending your loved ones to school this fall, take note of how you are supporting them. Odds are you can benefit from your wisdom as you consider whether or not it’s the right time to return to school. Spoiler alert, it is the right time! This list consists of suggestions for being successful in your educational goals, whether that’s completing your finger painting project, or bachelor’s degree.

1. Education is a priority, so act like it

As you make sure Junior has a good night’s sleep and well-rounded breakfast, you too should arrive at school prepared to focus on the education subjects, not the logistics of a campus. Before the first day of school have you: found the location of your classes, logged in to your online portal (syllabus is usually up early), and bought your parking pass? Technically, you can accomplish all of these tasks when you arrive at campus, but why give yourself that headache. Arrive organized and ready to start your quarter/semester.

2. You don’t know what you don’t know….so ask for help

We all have that fear of asking questions we think everyone else has the answer to. Odds are, others have the same questions. So ask them. How do I access my financial aid? Will my credits transfer? Will this help with my current career? Not only are there specific departments to support you on campus, Greater Spokane Incorporated’s (GSI) Greater Minds Initiative has an education navigator to help you, regardless of the college you want to attend. The days of being transferred to speak with numerous college staff is over.

3. You will fit in, and you do belong there

The social aspect of any education platform is often the most fearful for students. One of the largest reasons Spokane residents decide not to return to school is the impression they are too old. Fun fact, the new “traditional” student probably looks a lot like you. Over 20% of all college students nationwide are 35 or older, and the same is true at our regional campuses. The Community Colleges of Spokane average student is in their thirties, and already has work/life experience. In fact, many college instructors prefer students in their class who have more life experience as it brings a wealth of knowledge to the rest of the classroom.

4. Embrace the uncomfortable situations

Finances, exams, and public speaking are the most uncomfortable situations for the majority of college students.

  • Tuition cost is a consideration, and requires external support. So embrace it! 85% of all college students receive financial aid through loans or grants. Good news adult learners, the average age of a Pell Grant (that’s free money, not a loan) recipient is 26, so use your resources to discover all of the financial support in Spokane. Free money is there, but takes some research. Ask!
  • How many of you have said “I am a bad test taker?” Get the help you need. Free tutoring services are available at our regional colleges and additional resources such as private testing rooms, and added time for tests can also be arranged.
  • Public speaking has become one of the top skills employers look for in new employees. Jerry Seinfeld once said that the number one fear of adults is public speaking, then death! So before you decide you’d rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy, embrace the butterflies you get as you are learning a well-regarded skill that will prepare for your career growth.

Follow your own advice when returning to school and contact Jodi Strote at GSI to help you finish your education.You would want your kids to find the resources, so do it for yourself.


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