Four Tips for College Students Heading Back to School

The Transition Back to Learning Can Bring Challenges But Also Exciting New Opportunities—Manage The Changes With These Key Tips

Back-to-school time can bring the melancholy of summer’s end but also the excitement of progress toward learning and career goals. If students are returning to the classroom after a long break from learning, the change can bring unique transition needs. WGU Ohio Chancellor Dr. K.L. Allen offers four tips for successfully managing the back-to-school transition for colleges students of all types—online and in-person. With WGU Ohio starting its new online academic terms every month, “back-to-school” is a year-round process for WGU Ohio students, and Dr. Allen’s advice is rooted in plenty of good experience.


“A student-centered university model like WGU Ohio’s means we start new terms when students want to start them, which is usually “right now.” So, we don’t make them wait months or years to start their program. WGU Ohio has new terms starting every month and that means we know a thing or two about the transition of going back to school. We see it all year long. That’s experience I’m glad to share with all students, regardless of where they learn,” said Dr. Allen.


  1. You’re not alone. Whether someone is a returning student continuing a program, going to college for the very first time or returning to school after a long time in the workforce—rest assured that there are plenty of other students thinking and feeling the exact same things. Concerns about juggling schedules, preserving time for work, family and self-care and practicing good study skills are nothing unique. Listening to others, sharing thoughts and simply drawing strength from knowing others are right there also can help students better manage what they’re going through.
  2. It’s ok to ease back into the swing of things. College instructors are seasoned pros and know what students are going through. It’s ok to ask them for help and for a little extra time to get up to speed. If students are going back to school after several years off, they should keep their class loads light at first. Whether they are studying online or sitting in a traditional classroom, they should get comfortable with the learning routine. Like most returning students, there are other obligations to juggle. Don’t let the classroom routine be overwhelming. It’s ok to keep time for other needs and instructors will help. Just ask.
  3. Lean on your team. Family, friends, coworkers and other mentors are great resources who can and will help students make the transition back to school, regardless of if they’ve been away for a summer or a decade. Every university has a range of resources and support tools to help. For example, WGU Ohio pairs each student with a Program Mentor who provides information necessary for success, but also serves as a student’s personal cheerleader.
  4. Finally, take time to get ready. Students can avoid the panic of suddenly being overwhelmed by taking just a little time to see what’s coming. Understanding class schedules, assignments and responsibilities helps avoid surprises. Also, students shouldn’t wait to the last minute to look at costs and their budgets. They should also see if they can get credit for skills they already have. It can save money and let students move ahead faster.

“Regardless of where students choose to study, I think they benefit from giving themselves the freedom and time to adjust, communicating with their other students and their instructors, leaning on their personal relationships and their college’s resources and preparing in advance,” said Allen. “Our futures are written by the education choices we make, so doing education in the way that sets us up for maximum success is worth thinking about. It pays dividends that help us be more successful in whatever we do.”