Anxiety About Going Back to College


Whether you have been away from college for a short period of time or for several years, you may experience deep fears as the first day of school nears. Returning students sometimes face the unknown and the unfamiliar. They may wonder if they will finish this time, how long it will take to finish and what lies at the end of the journey. By finding the right kind of help and getting answers to your questions, the transition back to school can become easier.

Anxiety About Unfamiliarity

  • When you've been out of the classroom for a while, it is natural to feel anxiety when faced with an unfamiliar setting. Stress builds when you can't find the registration office or even the bathroom. It feels odd to sit amongst a sea of other students who are younger than you. You may worry about whether you can become accustomed to the teacher's style or the demands of class work. Returning students should expect to feel this way. New things will soon become old and you will feel comfortable soon.

Anxiety About Workload

  • The first day of class can feel overwhelming when you are trying to project how much work will be due each week. You may worry whether you'll be able to complete all the reading and writing assignments. You've probably fallen out of the habit of reading and studying. Just like riding a bicycle, by moving forward with immediate diligence, good study habits will return.

Lack of Confidence Regarding Technology

  • Technology changes and even if you've only been out of school for a short time, your class may require you to learn new or unfamiliar computer software programs. You will have company. Take it slow and ask your instructor for help. Find other resources in the college that can help you get up to speed with the technology.

Balancing Education, Career, Family

  • While you may have a strong desire to succeed in college, life's commitments can hold you back. Between work obligations, taking care of daily responsibilities, attending class and studying, there is little time for anything else. College counselors recommend that returning students start slow, take only a few classes, and add a few more once you know how many classes you can manage. Lorain Community College in Ohio suggests taking advantage of online courses in order to strike a balance between work and leisure.

Fear of Failure

  • Students returning to school have a specific end goal. It is normal to fear not reaching that goal, considering your lack of prior completion. Lorain Community College recommends that you Identify the fears that took you out of school the first time and factor whether you dropped out because you were in the wrong course of study, needed more prerequisites, or had a general lack of commitment to completion. Evaluate the reasons why you ceased attending school and resolve those issues so that you can move forward.


  • Photo Credit at the lesson image by Dmitry Nikolaev from
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