How to Build Your Support Network
Going back to school can be intimidating — but if you surround yourself with people who have your back, your experience will likely be a lot less scary. Maybe you already have a support system that has fallen into place organically, like a group of friends who you check in with regularly. Even if this is the case, you probably still have room to include more folks with varying perspectives and areas of expertise. If you don’t have a support network already in place, don’t feel bad! For many students, it takes a little bit of effort to identify people who can offer them support, so let’s run through some categories of people in your life who you may be able to look to for help.
If you can find someone in each of these categories to help you through school, great! Even if you just have a couple of people who are there for you, though, your time as a student will be so much better than it would if you were going through it alone.
Just a note: Although it may seem like we’re talking about one-sided relationships here (ex. You are looking for people who can support your goals), we hope your relationships with the individuals in your support network are mutually beneficial and that you’ll be able to provide advice and encouragement when appropriate, too.
Let’s take a look at some of the people who might consider being part of your support network.
Want practical advice that won’t only help you in school but will also help you grow your career? Talk to your manager! Your manager can identify your strengths and potential areas of growth, work with you to pinpoint different career paths you may want to pursue, and assist you in learning new skills. Plus, if you’re studying a subject that’s relevant to your current job, they might even be able to help you with your homework!
If you don’t already meet with your manager regularly, we suggest asking if you can set up recurring meetings with them. Whether you choose to meet weekly or monthly, this can be a valuable opportunity to discuss your career goals and identify things you can do to reach those goals.
Coworkers who you work with on a regular basis may have a different perspective of your work than your manager, boss, or supervisor does. The more directly you work with someone, the more familiar they probably are with what your day-to-day looks like, which means these coworkers could have insight on areas of improvement that you won’t hear from your boss. Take advantage of their insight and ask for feedback — just make sure to be specific about what areas of your work you’d like them to focus on.
Additionally, you might learn that some of your coworkers are also going back to school. This is a great opportunity to build community, so be sure to connect with them, even if they’re coworkers you don’t know very well. It doesn’t matter if you’re in different programs or are attending different schools; you can still commit to helping each other stay on target.
You might assume that going to school online means you’ll have less access to your class instructors, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Instructors who teach online classes are still here for your success, and they’re usually happy to chat over email or even set up some time to talk via video call. If you’re struggling to understand a concept from class, you can get the assistance you need — you’ll just need to initiate the conversation. To find out more about engaging with your instructors, check out this blog post.
Even if you haven’t met your classmates in person, there are still ways to build a support network with your fellow students. Consider setting up an online study group over Zoom and emailing your class to find out who wants to join. If there’s a particular student who you’ve connected with over class discussion boards, you might reach out to them directly just to chat. Doing so could mean you form a friendship that will last throughout your time in school — and maybe even beyond. Read this blog post for more ways to connect with your classmates.
Your Guild Coach
Did you know that by going back to school through Guild, you have access to personalized education coaching? Your coach can help you with all kinds of things, from goal setting to time management to simply helping you stay motivated. They’re a valuable resource that you definitely don’t want to miss out on. Take it from Sammi:
Not sure what to talk to your coach about? Find out how to prepare for your first coach call.
Your Friends and Family
Coworkers, classmates, and coaches are all valuable resources — but when it comes to tried-and-true support, you’ll want to look to the people who can provide you with safe spaces you won’t find anywhere else. Your friends and family know you better than anyone and they’re deeply invested in your success, which makes them the most valuable piece of your support team. They can help you make time for homework and engage with you on a deeper level than most — or even just be there for a quick, late-night “SOS!” text. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell your loved ones that you’re returning to school, but it’s absolutely worth doing. Your friends and family can be your biggest cheerleaders, so let at least a few of them know about this big change in your life.
Now it’s time to start building your support network! Want to find out other ways to engage in the Guild community? Check out this blog post.
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