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Checklist for Going Back to School as an Adult


It doesn't matter why you didn’t finish college. I know quite a few people who just didn't, and many don't want to talk about it.

Spencer is a twenty-something man who left college halfway through his senior year, for reasons that are nobody's business but his. What matters is knowing what to do when you know it's time to go back. The delay was only a few years for Spencer, but two years or thirty, the process is the same.

Here's Spencer's checklist for picking up the pieces and getting his booty back in college. Six steps. That's all.

Time Required: Depends on availability of records

Here's How:

  1. Apply to the school of your choice and:
    a. Send a copy of high school transcripts and/or college transcripts;

    b. Send ACT/SAT scores.
  2. See a transfer or admissions counselor to make sure you have done everything required to gain admission.
  3. File a FAFSA for student aid/loans, which requires the prior year's tax return information.
  4. Accept/decline awards and loans from the university.
  5. See your academic adviser to declare a major and set a course plan to earn a degree in your major.
  6. Register for classes.


  1. Spencer knew which school he wanted to attend. If you don’t, there are resources available to help you figure it out. College Admissions at About.com is a good place to start.
  2. Contact your high school/college for a copy of your transcripts. Many will send them directly to your college admissions office.
  3. If you didn't take the ACT or SAT, or got low scores, there are some schools that don't require them.
  4. FAFSA applications must be submitted by June 30. Watch your deadlines.
  5. If you don't know which degree or certificate is right for you, this article will help: Which Degree Is Right for You?

What You Need

  • College application of your choice
  • High school transcripts
  • College transcripts
  • ACT/SAT scores
  • FAFSA application
  • Prior year tax return info

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