For many men and women, life after divorce is all about change. That often means a change of careers. For spouses who dropped out of the workforce during the marriage to care for the home or children, the prospect of suddenly having to support oneself can be daunting.

Whether their skills have become obsolete or they just want to embark on a new career, many choose to go back to school.

If you are a later-in-life student, here are some tips to make your return to the classroom a positive one:

  • Avoid the comparison trap: Everyone is on a different life path. When you go back to school, you are going to meet students of all ages and walks of life, each with different skill sets and levels of success. Some may seem further along than you, or more accomplished than you. If you fall down the comparison trap, you will find it hard to get out. There will always be someone who seems to have the perfect job, degree, or relationship. Focus on your own strengths, goals and personal, unique journey.
  • Do not discount your experience: Whether you have been a homemaker, stay-at-home-parent, or spent your married years in another career, your wisdom is invaluable. Real-world experience is part of that critical thinking that so many younger college students may not have mastered yet. Be proud of all you have accomplished to this point and apply it to what you learn in the classroom for true success.
  • Go easy on yourself: Returning to college can feel overwhelming. You may feel like a fish out of water, much like you did your first day of high school or first day on a new job. Give yourself time to adapt to this new undertaking. In time it will get easier, and soon enough, you will get in a routine and gradually build your confidence with each new day.
  • Brush up on technology: Technology is ever-evolving. You may not even recognize the modern classroom. Find out what devices and applications you will be using in school and become familiar with them before the first day. If you are not tech-savvy, or do not have a tech-savvy friend or family member, contact your local community college. Many offer free or low-cost beginners’ courses for a host of current popular programs and devices.
  • Research your career path: If your primary goal is to support yourself as a newly-single person, choose your future career wisely. Your university’s career counselor can work with you to find fields or professions that match your skill set and personality, and that offer growth in the marketplace. Find someone who works in the field and ask them about their day, the pros and cons of their chosen career, and even “shadow” them for a day or two before you commit your time and your money to a profession that may or may not be a good fit.