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Your Past is in the Past: Going to College

back to school leaving addiction in the pastAt this point in your life, you have already had to work extremely hard to get to the place you are now. After taking control of your addiction, you are now ready to move on with your life and start to reach those goals that you may not have even realized you wanted to achieve.

Going back to school is a scary prospect. But with what you have been through already, you are well equipped to rise to the challenge. It may seem as if school is too scary of a prospect, especially if you have gone and failed in the past, but you are in a better place and are no longer the person you used to be.

You have overcome some very difficult strides and the work you have put into that will be quite beneficial for you moving forward, especially when it comes to receiving your education. In high school or college, you may have fallen into the trap of drinking, drugs, and partying but those days are behind you. It is now time that you stop focusing on your past and move forward to your future and your career goals. Your past is in the past, so leave it there and move towards a more rewarding future.

Do Not Let a Criminal Record Stop You: FAFSA & Scholarships Can Help

Having a criminal record can affect your eligibility to receive financial assistance for your education but that does not have to stop you. Knowing your way around the financial aid application system and knowing about different scholarships that are available can be greatly beneficial for all new and returning students. At ABTRS, we know you have the potential for achieving your personal goals and we want to support you. Apply for our ABTRS Educational Scholarship to help you feel confident in your new direction in life.

back to school FAFSA formsApplying for school and financial aid can be an extremely frustrating and stressful situation for anyone. However, the more information you know going into it, the less stress you will have to deal with. FAFSA forms serve more than one purpose. Not only do they help determine the amount of federal financial assistance you can receive they also use these forms to help determine the amounts of nonfederal aid you are eligible to receive. This means that even if your eligibility for federal aid is in question you should still submit an application.

Some of the biggest limitations when it comes to federal financial assistance occur when there are drug-related charges. But that does not mean it is impossible. These limitations can be lifted by completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or by passing two impromptu drug tests. Criminal convictions should not keep you from going back to school and making a better life for yourself. If you have dealt with other charges it may be beneficial to look directly at the FAFSA website to see what other limitations there are when it comes to federal financial assistance.

Although this may all seem extremely confusing and hopeless you are not alone. There are always others there available to help when you need it, especially when it comes to applying for college and finding out about how you can receive financial assistance.

back to school criminal recordIn fact, there are two organizations that are completely dedicated to helping ex-cons better their situation. The National Transitional Jobs Network or the NTJN is one of these organizations. It helps ex-cons by providing trainings and education so that they can gain employment and stay above the poverty line.

The other organization is called The National HIRE Network. It helps ex-cons by finding them job opportunities and counseling them so that they are better placed to find jobs. These are both great resources for those who are wanting to make a better life for themselves after they have been incarcerated. There are people out there who want to help you succeed, it is your job to find them.

Not only is federal financial aid an option but another option is to receive scholarships. Depending on your field of study you may be eligible for different scholarships that will help you pay for college. You can find these by looking online for scholarships that are available for your individual field of study or by even looking for special scholarships for ex-cons or recovering addicts.

You can also talk with an academic advisor at the school you plan to attend, and they can help you find these scholarships as well. Depending on your field of study ABTRS actually has a scholarship you may be eligible to receive. Do not let the burden of finding financial assistance keep you from living your life to the fullest and achieving your goals.

The Problem with Debt and Student Loans

back to school student loan debtAlthough student loans can be helpful, they can also be extremely expensive and may not be the best route to take if there are other options available. Fortunately, there are a lot of options for full academic coverage when you attend a community college or trade school.

When you attend a community college you can have most or all of your classes and expenses paid for. Also they tend to have a lower cost per credit which means that you will pay less for every credit you receive. This can eliminate some of the financial stressors you are feeling about returning to school. There are many financial options that can be exhausted before loans must be taken out.

When it comes to loans they can either be federal or private but federal loans are preferred. Private loans usually end up being way more expensive and are a lot harder to receive. Private loans are often just meant to be a final resort and you should try and avoid them. Debt.org has a great article that can help you learn more about student loans.

Balancing School, Life, & Sobriety

School life can be stressful but there are also ways in which you can minimize this stress. One way in which you can do this is by being organized and by keeping a calendar with all your class times and deadlines. By knowing when all of your assignments are due and when your tests are scheduled.

back to school balancing life and schoolYou can make sure that you allot yourself plenty of time to get your work and studying done. When you do study make sure that your surroundings are distraction free. It can be frustrating to attempt to study or do work when there is a lot going on around you. The more peaceful and quiet your surroundings are the less stress you will feel. It is also important that you feel comfortable enough to speak up in classes and ask questions when you feel confused or frustrated about a topic you may not understand.

Not understanding what the professor is teaching can lead to a lot of stress so by asking for clarification you will be able to eliminate a lot of needless worries. If you do not feel comfortable speaking up in class you can also email your teacher or visit with them during their office hours to receive extra assistance. They will be happy to help you reach your goal and it will be a great reflection on you and your willingness to put in that extra work.

When you enroll in college you may also consider enrolling in IOP services especially if you are worried about the stress. Sometimes these services can help with stress because they can give you extra time on assignments or tests that may help alleviate some of the stress. They also may provide counseling and relapse prevention so it would be the best route to take to set yourself up for success. It is also important that you make sure to take full advantage of your sponsor at this time. Also, surround yourself with others that you can lean on in the event that your stress levels become dangerously high and you are leaning towards a relapse.

Avoiding Stress and Peer Pressure

When it comes to addiction, stress can be a very big trigger for a lot of people. Unfortunately, school can be a very big stressor as well. This is a very important thing to keep in mind as you pursue an education. Just because it can be stressful does not mean it is impossible and that you will not be able to push through these stressors.

back to school dealing with stressSometimes those who have overcome addiction are so scared that they will be tempted back into their addiction that they avoid anything that might trigger it. This can result in an avoidance of school because they worry that the stress will lead them back into their addiction. This does not have to be the case. Partly this is an issue with self-esteem that needs to be addressed.

Those who have had an addiction need to know that they are much stronger than they think they are and they are more than capable of fighting against there addiction during times of stress. An article published by Ocean Breeze Recovery helps outline all the ways in which a recovering addict can help themselves to overcome the stress of returning to school without resorting back to old negative coping mechanisms.

Another problem that should be addressed is that of peer pressure. With the partying that occurs among college students there may be plenty of opportunities for you to be surrounded by your addiction. It is important that you are able to keep your social interactions to ones that are healthy for you and that will not lead to you being tempted by your addiction. Make sure that you are able to properly deal with stress and any tempting social situations that may arise. That is the key to success going forward with your education.

Staying Focused While Enjoying Your Second Chance

As you begin this journey, whether it is for the first time or not, it can be extremely nerve-racking but exciting at the same time. Starting the college process can be even more difficult when you have had a complicated past that may have included a failed attempt at education. Your past does not have to be a defining factor for your education.  Move forward and put your past in the past where it belongs. You can still enjoy this exciting time in your life.

back to school staying focusedYou will have an opportunity to meet new people who have the same goals and interests as you. Move on with your life in a healthy direction. However, the stress of school can sometimes make you want to resort to old habits, and this is something that you will have to be extra aware of as you rejoin your education. It is important that as you work towards your educational goals, you also make sure you are aware of your internal state. Take care of any stressors before they build up and make it harder for you to maintain your sobriety.

When it comes to the big picture and your ultimate goal you are hoping to put yourself into a better situation for the future. So if the stress of your education gets in the way of that it is important to seek help. This means you must have your goals in mind and be willing to obtain them no matter what.

One way that you can be sure to do this is by having a sponsor who is willing to help you when you need it most and offer support when you feel as if you are unable to handle the stress alone. Finding a sponsor can be crucial to keeping you on the path to reaching your goals. They can be there for you when you are in your deepest moments of need. This can make it much easier for you to worry less about stress. Now you can really feel the joy of learning in your journey.