School’s Out Forever! – Or Not…
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School’s Out Forever! – Or Not…

Salus University AuD Class of 2020 

Five years after graduating from college, I decided to go back to school to study Audiology at Salus University. I was excited to start learning and move forward with my career but also pretty nervous. Transitioning to a rigorous graduate program would definitely take some adjustment. It’s not as if I had just been binge watching Netflix and going out to brunch every day but I certainly was no longer used to being a full-time student. It is natural to worry about going back to school after a few (or more) years away. Here’s a few of my pre-grad school worries and thoughts on how to make it through:

Adjusting to the schedule: Since my undergrad graduation, I have been relatively successful at keeping a schedule. I filled my time with plenty of full-time work and volunteer experiences, complimented by a healthy social life. Typically I had a “9 to 5” schedule, and at 5 o’clock I went home. When I was away from work, I was rarely thinking about work. I went on vacations for weeks at a time and I could leave town every weekend if I felt so inclined (who doesn’t want to go to Bermuda in February?). The decision to go back to school initiated a big change in lifestyle. There would be little to no “time off” and there would be homework, lots of homework. I had to learn how to manage my time in a completely new way. I had to organize my schedule for school but also try to fit in the other aspects of my life that keep me sane. Since I was no longer able to leave town on a whim to clear my head, I had to find little things that I can do on a regular basis to help me stay focused. For me that includes a part-time job, a religious community, and a regular yoga class. It is impossible to be studying all day every day. Remember that you are a person, not a machine!

Connecting with your classmates: First of all, going back to school in your late 20s (like me) is a totally normal thing to do. Going back to school anytime is an amazing thing to do and you should never feel like it’s too late to get an education! However, there are a whole lot of students who are driven/crazy enough to go straight from their undergraduate program into a graduate program. And because of this, you (like me) could be worried that they will think you are old and weird; maybe you feel out of the loop socially. Well, not to worry, everyone at Salus just happens to be really nice. Honestly, I was so surprised at how welcoming the other students were and how they did not care when they found out that I was born before 1990. I was also surprised to find that I was not alone. There were other students who were in a very similar point of life when they decided to go back to school. Now, maybe we don’t hang out on the weekends and I still go back to NY as often as I can to see my friends, but we have a solid bond in our class. I have also found my younger classmates to be a strength to me because they remember what they studied in undergrad biology classes, whereas I do not. And luckily they are more than happy to share their knowledge. I should really thank admissions for only letting nice people into this school. Remember to give people a chance to surprise you!

Being in “student mode” again: Right before I came to Salus I was working at a hospital as a hearing screener for newborn babies. I loved my job, which is how I ended up going back to school. I was nervous to go to lectures, take exams, to study from a textbook. It’s been several years since I did any of that. I was afraid my time away from school would be a disadvantage. But since starting this program, I have found that my experiences before coming back to school have really helped me to be a better student. I find that I am more motivated than I was in my undergraduate program. I have a much greater desire to learn everything and I am not afraid to ask questions. The material is difficult, but it’s also fascinating. It took a couple weeks to get used to sitting through several hours of lecture and to translate my notes into something I could study from. But the struggle was worth the effort. There are times when I feel like I ask a lot of questions, but it helps everyone in the end. Remember that you may come into a class with a completely different perspective–but that’s a good thing!

So just enjoy the opportunity to focus 100% of your energy on your given field. The transition will take some time, and when graduation rolls around it will be a whole new balancing act. Speaking for myself, I hope to take full advantage of the next few years and reap the benefits of the education I receive. Besides, I can always go to Bermuda some other time.

- Ellen is a first year audiology student at Salus University

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