Many adults choose to return to school after a long hiatus from the educational system. You have inherent advantages and disadvantages when compared to the typical 20-year-old college student. Running with your advantages and managing your disadvantages is necessary for success. This is true in all parts of life, including going to school.

Even if you never earned high grades in the past, you can turn your academic success around now.

You have a couple of huge advantages:

* You know what you want. You have a real purpose for going back to school. The average college student is taking his best guess.

* You know how to manage your time. The experience of being out in the workforce or running a household is excellent preparation for dealing with the time management issues that college presents.

Go back to school and set the curve:

1. Get started early on everything. Your ability to assimilate and recall new information might be a little rusty. Your fellow students have been in school for at least the last 12 years. That doesn’t mean you can’t crush them on exam day, but it does mean you may need to start studying and writing papers sooner.

2. Do a little each day. There are two reasons for this. You may not have the flexibility in your schedule to cram for a day or two before a test or spend all day and night writing a paper.

* It’s also a much more efficient way to study. Two hours of studying each night are much more effective than studying for seven hours, twice each week. Get ahead and stay there.

3. Avoid missing class. Many classes are now recorded, and you may have the option of staying home and watching the video instead of attending class. This can be an effective strategy, if you’re certain you can do well.

* If you’re a mediocre student, it’s best to attend class. Sit in the front row and be seen. You’re likely to get the benefit of the doubt when grades are handed out.

4. Ask pertinent questions. Nothing shows that you care like asking a relevant question during each class. Your professor will appreciate the opportunity to stop lecturing for a moment, and you’ll score a few points that might come in handy down the road.

* You’ll also have to know the material well in order to ask a good question. Avoid asking something that can easily be found in the textbook. Otherwise, you’ll appear lazy.

5. Get the help you need. Most colleges and universities have writing labs and tutoring services. Your professor will have office hours and possibility a teaching assistant. Make use of all the resources you require to do your best.

6. Make a few friends. It might feel more comfortable to take the lone wolf route, but that’s a mistake. Eventually, you’re going to miss a class and need to copy someone else’s notes. Asking a complete stranger might not go over well. Make a friend or two in each class. You’ll be glad you did.

7. Always be prepared. The lecture topic shouldn’t be a surprise to you. Do the required reading before class.

* The lecture should reinforce what you’ve already taught yourself. Hearing something for the second or third time will foster greater understanding.

Being an older student can be lonely, but the deck is stacked in your favor, even if you deal with a couple of disadvantages. Remember that you don’t have to outrun the bear, just your fellow travelers. Get started early, always attend class, and be prepared. You can get straight A’s, even if you haven’t in the past.