Steps to Success

For students who have left college – for whatever reason – and wish to return to UH Mānoa to complete their bachelor’s degree, here are key steps towards success:

Step 1 – Desire to Finish

If you’ve left college for several semesters to several years, and are working full time or have family responsibilities, switching gears to a world of homework and tests requires a personal commitment. Regardless of what motivates your return – personal accomplishment, career opportunities, or serving as a role model to others – having the desire to finish is essential to ensure your success.

Step 2 – Make a Plan

Review your options. Whether you are continuing in the same major or considering switching majors, contact an academic advisor to discuss the necessary requirements for graduation. The Come Back to Mānoa program can help you explore interests and options and assist you in determining how and where courses best meet your needs – online, on campus at Mānoa, or through other University of Hawaiʻi System schools.

Apply for readmission. The Come Back to Mānoa program can help you determine which admission process best meets your needs and time frame – as a Classified student at UH Mānoa, through UH Mānoa’s Outreach College Extension courses, or at another institution. If you no longer live in Hawaiʻi, it is possible for you to take a few remaining courses elsewhere, transfer them to UH Mānoa, and graduate with your degree from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Develop a pathway to graduation. Develop a tentative plan for which courses you want to take in which semester and when you plan to graduate. Having an end goal with an anticipated graduation date brings the reality into focus, keeps you on budget, and helps to keep you motivated along the way!

Step 3 – Balancing School, Work, and Life

Balancing school, work, and life can be especially challenging for adults returning to college…but it is possible!

Include your family. It’s important to discuss with family how you can work together to handle the impact of your return to school. Family can serve as a critical support system – by providing encouragement, taking on extra household responsibilities, giving up time spent with you, and compensating for additional expenses or reduced income while you focus on your studies. You’ll need to schedule time to spend with family as well as focus on your schoolwork, honoring both schedules. With children discuss the need for quiet time while you concentrate on your studies - and remind them of the quality family time planned for later.

Create a dedicated study area. Having a quiet space where you can study and keep your school materials can help keep you organized and in a focused mindset. It also reminds family that you are less available when you are in that area.

Manage your time. Make a schedule and stick with it to the best of your ability. Keep a calendar and enter important dates such as key responsibilities at work, family commitments, and assignment due dates. Determine key priorities and schedule around them, adjusting your calendar to make accommodations. If you have multiple commitments on the same day, plan ahead to complete assignments early, allocating additional blocks of study time if needed.

Communication is key. Ask for help if you have questions or concerns. Let your professors know of upcoming conflicts and attempt to handle the conflict ahead of time. Sometimes life unexpectedly gets in the way; communicate with your professors as soon as possible after the fact. There are numerous offices and individuals on campus who care about your success – reach out if you need assistance, and they can point you in the right direction if others are better suited to assist you.

Find a community. Returning to college after being out for a while can sometimes feel isolating. Connecting with a community that has similar interests or faces similar challenges provides its own type of support to help you succeed. If you’re not finding a community that meets your needs, talk to someone about it. Donʻt underestimate the power of being able to talk story together!

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