How to return to Graduate School after a long break.

1. Have a clear goal for going back to school. 

It's not a good idea to return to grad school after dropping out if you don't have a purpose for returning. Be clear with your goal, ask yourself questions like: Am I returning to college to earn a degree to advance in my profession? Am I looking to enhance my earning potential? Am I gearing towards a career change? Have a clear plan, which will help keep you motivated and moving forward.

2. Choose a program that allows you to reach your goal.

Research schools and programs that allow you to reach your professional goals. In some professions, a certificate degree may open up career opportunities equal to those of a higher degree program. Basically, an associates or a bachelor's degree may be necessary, so be sure your academic program moves you toward your goal.

3. Consider attending your undergraduate college.

Sometimes the institutions previously attended have a lot to do with why the student dropped out. For others, the school was a fit but there were other factors that didn't allow things to work out. Many schools allow dropouts to return without reapplying, and academic forgiveness programs can even wipe out bad grades.

4. Find the right form of instructional delivery for you.

Some people have work and have family responsibilities, so choosing an alternative education option, like online, makes it easier to fit school into your schedule.

5. Get help during the admissions process.

Work with an advisor to learn how you can best present yourself during the admission process. Admissions staff can also help you complete other applications and paperwork.

6. Consult an academic counselor.

As soon as you've been accepted into a school, schedule an appointment with an academic counselor. These professionals can help map out your path to graduation, and help ensure you get credit for applicable coursework you completed earlier as a college student.

7. Be realistic about what you can do.

If family or work obligations are going to make it difficult to be a full-time student, enroll as a part-time student.

8. Get support.

Attending college is definitely rewarding, but it can also be full of challenges. You should know where to go for help when difficulties arise. Consult instructors and advisors for any academic concerns and assistance. If you're affected by personal challenges, consult family members and friends.