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Back-to-School Tips and Tricks for Professional Development

  • 5 Min Read

Ready to set sail on a professional development journey? Here are some tips to help make going back to school a success.


No matter what your career is or how long you’ve been in the workforce, there’s one constant for every professional—learning never stops. While the reasons to pursue professional development or upskilling may vary, the outcome is happy employees. According to a report from ClearCompany, 58% of employees surveyed said professional development opportunities contributed positively to their job satisfaction.

But balancing work, learning and personal commitments can be a challenge for workers who are pursuing professional development opportunities. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the factors you should consider when choosing a course or program. We’ll also share some tips for making your back-to-school experience a success.

Three Things to Consider When Selecting a Course or Program

Going back to school for professional development can seem like a choose-your-own-adventure story. You’re the hero on a quest to improve yourself, but before you can set out on that journey, there are three questions you should answer.

1. What Do You Want to Learn?

The reasons to take a professional development course or program are different for everyone. Going back to school can help you improve your performance in your current role or open up internal advancement opportunities. Examples of these could be management programs if you are an emerging leader or upskilling courses if you want to take on a new challenge. And every working professional could benefit from improving their soft skills like critical thinking, teamwork or public speaking.

When you’re researching courses and programs, take the time to read course descriptions. They’ll give you a summary of what you’ll learn and how you’ll learn it. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information either. Many education providers have staff who will happily answer your questions or provide you access to course information so you can know what the requirements and time commitments are.

2. How Do You Learn Best?

Everyone has a different way of learning that suits them best. Maybe you prefer a lecture-style course where you’re able to take notes and review them when the timing works for you. Other learners might benefit from a hands-on lab where they can put lessons into action. It’s not only the style of learning that you need to consider—it’s also the pace. Live online courses can provide you with interactive lessons, while recorded courses allow you to learn at your own pace.

The way you learn matters. Making sure the course presents the materials in the way that works best for you will maximize the value of your professional development.

3. How Much Time Do You Have for Learning?

One of the most critical deciding factors for choosing a course or program is your current schedule. Going back to school is more than class time: Many programs require time for reading, group projects and presentation prep.

Your availability might be the deciding factor for the type of course or program you choose. Online learning gives you the freedom to learn when the time is right for you and your schedule.

Five Tips and Tricks for When You Go Back to School

Once you’ve found the right course or program and registered, it’s time to refresh yourself with some tips and tricks for going back to school. While you may not have the same first-day jitters you did in elementary school, going back to school as a working professional can still be daunting.

1. Set a Routine

Blocking out time in your routine is crucial to making your back-to-school transition work for you. You’ll need to look at how much time the class requires, including research for assignments and group meeting time with your classmates. If your schedule is already filled to the brim, look for ways to combine activities, like listening to recorded online lectures while you exercise.

2. Familiarize Yourself With the Tech Platforms

Learning has come a long way from chalkboards and the school library. Before you begin your first class, make time to learn the ins and outs of the platform being used. Make sure your laptop or tablet is compatible with the learning platform too. Most importantly, familiarize yourself with how to ask questions if you need assistance from classmates, instructors or the program’s help desk.

3. Learn Together

Learning works best when you learn together. According to a recent story in the Harvard Gazette, a Harvard University study has shown that students gain more knowledge from learning together than lectures. Learning in a group can help you build strong bonds while you’re learning and can even grow your professional network outside of the classroom. If your course or program has an online forum or community, get involved—try and answer questions when you can.

4. Don’t Forget to Cite Your Sources

You may have been out of school for a while—if so, your grasp of footnotes and endnotes might not be up to date. The internet can be a fantastic source for research, but you’ll need to make sure you use proper citation to give credit where it’s due. There are tools in place to help you from accidentally plagiarizing, but it’s always a great idea to check your own work with a tool like Grammarly.

5. Ask for Help When You Need It

Starting a professional development course can be a challenge, but it’s not one that you have to tackle alone. Your team and manager are there to support you. Ask for help if you run into issues balancing course and work requirements so you can make the most of your professional development course. If your team members are supporting your professional development, they’ll want to ensure you have everything you need—including the time—to complete the course successfully.

How D2L Wave Is Making It Easy to Find Courses

D2L Wave is used by businesses to help their employees find courses and programs that fit their career development and business goals. The platform connects employees with a curated selection of online courses from top-rated education providers. The course selections are chosen to help businesses recruit, retain and reshape their workforce for today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities.

Written by:

Alex Kinsella
Alex Kinsella

Alex Kinsella is a freelance content marketer and writer based in Waterloo Region, Ontario. He’s worked with some of Canada’s most well known tech companies in roles including customer success, development, product management, PR, social media and marketing. Alex has contributed to publications including BetaKit, The Community Edition, Grand Magazine, and more.

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Table of Contents
  1. Three Things to Consider When Selecting a Course or Program
  2. Five Tips and Tricks for When You Go Back to School
  3. How D2L Wave Is Making It Easy to Find Courses