How to Build Self Esteem in Adults

Written by Karl Perera MA, DipLC.

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1. Build Your Self Esteem by Going Back to School as an Adult

So you’re thinking of going back to school? Whether you feel like you missed your calling, you’ve decided to change a career path, or you’re finally pursuing a Ph.D. now that the kids are out of the house, you are not alone. Getting a degree is becoming the new norm for the 40 and over crowd.

Yet, school has changed so much since the last time you were there. Whether it’s business school, medical school, or architectural construction management school, how do you know if you are ready?

Don’t sweat it. Chances are your life experience gives you a leg up on most of your competition—even some of your professors and interviewers. The wisdom that you gained from the last two, three or four decades since you were in school provide you a competitive advantage. Furthermore, thanks to LSAT, GMAT, and MCAT course options available online and in-person, preparation has gotten more accessible and convenient. As for new technology and the fact that you haven’t written an essay in a while, those are all skills that you can grow to achieve as you’re pursuing your dream.

Remember Your Strengths

Something has allowed you to survive life this long. It might be tenacity, it might be intelligence, it might be faith or self discipline… likely it’s a combination of these three things and more.

If you’re experiencing anxiety about enrolling in graduate school or are looking for a direction in what to pursue ask yourself this question: what am I best at?

Sit down and make a list of all of your strengths. Then make a list of all the strengths that used to be weaknesses. Realistically, take a look at how you’ve grown and recognize that you have the power to learn any skill you put your mind to. This a great first step in making progress in self-improvement.

When you know what your strengths are, you’ll be able to apply them to any and all situations college will throw at you. Whether you’re talented in the area you were studying, or you have to work really hard to achieve your dream, bolstering your strengths and strengthening your weaknesses will be a powerful way to elevate your academic skills.

Ask For Help

Remember that your teachers, your spouse, your children, and your friends are there to support you in this big life change. As you are pursuing a new career, be humble enough to ask questions. Asking is the most important form of learning as it not only allows you to fill in your own gaps, but it also allows you to think independently on the subject at hand to truly understand it.

If you were nervous about the technological advances of the educational system, talk to your kids or even the younger students in your class about how to use software. If you’re uncomfortable asking directly, using Google to find informative blog posts or YouTube videos is an excellent way to teach yourself how to use technology.

Create a Reward System

It’s likely been a long time since you last crammed for an exam, but chances are you enjoyed it then about as much as you will now.

Studying can be interesting. Occasionally you’ll read a book that captivates your attention and reminds you of why you’re getting into your desired field. However, most people do not enjoy reading and reviewing notes to for tests.

When you are studying, create a reward system. Some students lay out pieces of chocolate on their textbooks and whenever they finish the paragraph, they eat the piece of chocolate. Some students study for 20-minute blocks and then give themselves a five-minute break. Some students set out an ambitious goal to finish a project or get a certain grade on a test and then reward themselves with a steak dinner.

Whatever your goal, be sure that your reward is proportionate to your meeting it.

Going back to school is something to be celebrated. Remember what it was like to be a student for the first time. Give yourself grace and patience, but most of all, be excited about all the doors your new degree will open for you. There are so many ways you can better yourself at college that it is well worth doing!

Better Yourself In College

Your freshman year of college is a complete culture shock for most.  The sharp learning curve mixed with the excessive freedom to do whatever you choose to do can prove challenging for even the most focused young person.    

Once you survive your freshman year, you begin to learn that college is a transitional time for the rest of your life.  It’s a time to invest in yourself and your self esteem. Choosing to make the best of your college years will be a huge determining factor for your level of professional success following college.  

Take the time you have to make yourself better, and learn how to soak up the full spectrum of learning while you’re in school.  Here is a brief look at a few ways to actively better yourself while you’re in college.  

Take every opportunity to build your network

College presents a great opportunity to network with others inside and outside of your prospective field of practice.  You get a chance every day to meet someone new, and you should make the most of those opportunities.  

Building a network of people to support you will help you ride the high end of your self esteem.  You’ll be more productive and more successful overall with a large web of professionals to assist you on your journey.  

You never know when one of your college buddies will end up being the professional you need in your time of struggle.  Build connections you can continue and maintain after college, and your professional career will benefit.  

Take on emotional challenges along the way

Try not to isolate yourself too much in college.  There are far too many networking opportunities for you to hole up in your dorm room the whole time you’re in school.  Get out, and meet new people.  

New and exciting personalities in your world will help you build your self esteem as well.  It’s enriching to make a new connection, and college is all about being social.  

When you have the chance to take part in a group chat or a group study session, take those chances.  The connections you make in college could make a huge impact on your career in the future.  

Use college to transition to adulthood

The real life challenges you will face during your college years will give you a glimpse of what life will be like after you’re finished.  Take the umbrella comfort of college life to use as a safe learning environment.  

Take the time to become a master budgeter.  Learn to properly manage the financial demands of everyday life, and learn the ins and outs of some of the most fundamental processes of adulthood.  

Learn to better your work ethic

You may have made it through high school without putting forth much effort, but you’ll want to change that behavior in college.  Get the most out of going to university, and take actions to better your work ethic.  

When you know you’re a great asset to your employer, you naturally feel better about yourself.  Keeping your self-esteem on the up and up will help keep you engaged in your college experience.  

Train yourself to allot time studying.  Make yourself set aside time for sleep. Learn to live a structured and functional life rather than partying, and you’ll find yourself a more adequate professional in the end.  

Use college to better understand financial dealings 

Pay attention to the financial management skills thrown your way throughout school.  Your student loans and grants will be accompanied with lots of important information.  Don’t throw those papers away!

Website Author and Your Guide

Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA), and author of the book Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 since suffering from low self esteem for more than 25 years overcoming it in his thirties.