As an adult returning to school, you may face certain obstacles that don't affect recent high school graduates. You may have a job, a family, and a mortgage, and adding school on top of all that can increase your stress. Returning to school as an adult does have its perks, though. Earning a new credential can open up more job opportunities or promotions, and schools are more flexible now than ever in helping you achieve your goals.

Being an adult comes with certain obligations. Between paying bills, working to pay the bills, and possibly taking care of a family, it can seem like there's not enough time in the day. Returning to school now, though, can provide you with the education you need to get a promotion or switch careers, and you can study on your own time. Provided you can find a way to pay for classes, going back to school provides great opportunities.

You don't have to give up on work when you go back to school. In fact, plenty of students manage to do both. Your first step in returning to school is to talk to your current employer about your plans. They may offer you a flexible schedule, or you can choose to schedule your classes around your work. Many institutions offer evening classes and online classes for students who need extra flexibility, and a part-time curriculum will simplify your life even more.

The decision to quit your job and return to school isn't one that should be made overnight. First talk to your employer about your desire to return to school; they may be encouraging and offer you a leave of absence if you promise to return. If you decide you'd rather quit your job, don't expect your position back when you finish your credential. Be prepared to search for jobs, internships, and volunteer programs while you're in school to give your résumé an additional boost.

Generally, earnings potential increases with education. If you are going through a bout of unemployment, returning to school to earn a certificate or higher degree may be a viable option. Federal financial aid and aid from other sources may make it affordable to you to go back to school, and participating in internships and volunteer activities while you're in school can ensure that your résumé is ready to go come graduation.

Before you decide to switch careers, you need to be able to definitively say that you're not doing it just because you don't like your current employer. It's much easier to find a new job in the same field than it is to return to school and start over. If you do choose to go to school for a new credential, do your research. Know what credential you need, schools that offer the right program, and your future job prospects.