Adult learners may worry about being academically ready for school, especially if it has been a while since they were a student or if they struggled in school before. There is help! Colleges have support systems to keep you moving forward with your academic goals.

Adults who are the first in their family to go to college can find the process especially intimidating. Remember that even if you’ve been out of school for a while, in your adult life you’ve continued to build your reading, writing, and critical thinking skills in your home, work and community.

Placement Assessments

A placement assessment helps colleges enroll you in courses at your level.

Preparing and studying can make a big difference before you take a placement assessment. It is to your benefit that the results reflect what you know. Your advisor can provide practice materials and online resources. If you feel the placement result doesn’t reflect your level, ask if you can practice more and re-take the assessment.

Note that you might need to take a foundational or developmental class before taking required courses for your program.

Academic Resources

Every college has free resources to help students succeed in their classes:

  • Math tutoring, writing lab, and the computer support desk are common student supports. Often there is help available in a drop-in basis, as well as more in-depth one-on-one help with a class or subject area.

  • Online tutoring can give you access to assistance even when you are not on campus.

  • Some colleges also offer supplemental instruction, where trained fellow students lead study sessions for a particularly challenging class.

  • Student services can also help you find coaches or mentors who can guide you with study skills and time management.

  • For research skills, college library staff can guide you with strategies for your class projects.

Accessibility and Learning Disabilities

If your academic concerns are related to a disability, contact your advisor or disability services staff, who are usually located in Student Services.

Colleges are required to provide appropriate academic accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Your advisor or disability services staff can answer your questions, explain the process, and help you with communications with your professors.


  • Talk with your advisor about any academic concerns you may have. Your advisor will share options to build your skills with developmental courses and can often recommend particular course sections or professors that will be a good fit.

  • Work with an academic advisor to create an educational plan that includes any developmental or support classes.

Ask the College

  • Am I required to take a placement test? Are there other alternatives to demonstrate my background and skills?

  • Where do you suggest I get academic help?

  • What campus resources provide academic tutoring, library research help, and tech support? Are they available online when I’m not on campus?


  • Some online resources for academic preparation include Khan Academy and

  • provides free online course preparation courses and free vouchers for the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) fee.

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