Do you have a complicated relationship with technology? Maybe you’re tempted to “break up” with computers, or your “smart phone” makes you feel dumb. Sending a few text messages and playing Candy Crush might be easy enough, but anything else seems to require a computer engineering background to understand?

Let’s face it: computers and “techy stuff” can be overwhelming. If you’re not “tech savvy,” it might feel especially scary to think about going back to college. If it feels daunting to use computers, email, and apps, then this article is for you.

Don’t believe the myth…

Here’s a little secret: you don’t HAVE to love technology to go back to college! Not everyone who graduates with their associate or bachelor's degree is a computer whiz.

Especially if it’s been a few years since you were in college, it may feel impossibly different now. Not long ago students submitted papers by handing a printed sheet to the professor. Now, submissions are made using the internet.

Maybe you even feel like Paul Stuart, who recently went back to college to finish his bachelor’s degree with the help of C2C. He said that he had never even written an email before he went back to college. Or maybe you get confused just trying to find the photo you just took on your phone so you can text it to a friend.

If it feels like “everyone but you” knows how to use computers, well, you are NOT alone. Many people struggle to figure out computers and cell phones and other technology. You are still smart and capable even if it’s confusing to order your lunch on the restaurant computer kiosk!

Help for the computer hopeless

Okay, so maybe you don’t hate computers, but we all have bad days when we want to punch the closest device with a cord. There is help for us! Here are just some of the options you can use to get more comfortable using technology and computers: 

  • Computer classes & tutoring on campus: If you need help with computer skills, you should start by asking the college you want to attend. Many community colleges and universities have resources for you! Each college is different so ask questions like these:
    • I don’t feel very comfortable using computers yet. Do you have tutors on campus who can help me learn how to submit my assignments?
    • I need to learn how to _____ (type, email, use the internet, etc.). What options do you have?
    • I’m not very techy. Do you have people who can help me learn how to submit my assignments?
  • Public library computer classes: Many public libraries offer basic computer classes. You can visit your local library or call them to see what options they might have for you.
  • Library WiFi access: Libraries (and many other public locations) now have WiFi available in their parking lots. If you don’t have internet access at home, it’s great to know about these locations! Click here to see a map of parking lots with WiFi access in Mississippi.  You can still get your homework done in the middle of the night, when libraries, coffee shops, and campus learning labs aren’t open.
  • Online classes: If might feel counterintuitive, but can also use a computer or phone to learn about computers! GFC Global is just one online resource that can help you learn a variety of computer skills for free. If you have a smart phone you could do a lot of these courses during waiting times. You’ll get to practice using your device while you take the classes.
  • MS WIN Job Centers: These centers are available all over Mississippi and often have skills training options. Check out the map here and call your nearby center to see how they could help you.
  • MSDHS resources: The Mississippi Depart of Human Services offers a wide variety of resources, including computer and other classes. Visit myresources.mdhs.ms.gov to search for Education options in your county. 
  • Your kids:  If you have teenagers or adult children or even younger kids, they might be able to help you. Kids are growing up with computers as part of their everyday lives, so it’s no surprise that they are often good at using techy tools. They might feel special helping you use your phone, and you might feel more comfortable after some mini lessons. Hey, you can always bribe them with pizza or Starbursts if they help you submit your science homework, right?

Get the most out of your training

Sometimes when you ask for help, you might meet a “teacher” who isn’t helpful. If you leave your lesson feeling more confused and frustrated with technology than you were before, then try to find a different resource.

Computers can be tricky, but you shouldn’t feel intimidated when using them. Find someone who can be patient with you. If you don’t understand, calmly tell the person that you don’t know what ______ means. It’s not your fault if you don’t understand something, and it’s normal to “not know what you don’t know.” Keep asking questions until the teacher understands where you need help.  

What if you don’t even have a computer?

Most college assignments now need to be created and submitted on computers. If you don’t have a computer, you are not alone… almost a quarter of US adults don’t own a desktop or laptop.  Without a computer, college can be more challenging, but not impossible at all. 

Libraries and college learning labs usually have computers available for public use.  You can also ask your college advisors if they know of local resources that can help college students get devices to use for school. 

If you want to go back to college, start here

Even if you’re intimidated by computers, you can take the first easy step to returning to college by completing the C2C application. Fair warning: it is an online application! However, it’s easy to use. It’s kind of like an online quiz that asks you a few questions about your education history. Answer the questions, and you’ll find out if you can take the next steps to get help through the Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program.

Once you’re accepted into C2C, you’ll be connected with a C2C Coach, who will be your personal guide through the steps to go back to college. Your coach can connect you with the “tech resources” at your community college or university. Your coach wants to help you succeed at college so you can graduate.

Many times you can go and visit your coach in person, and they can help you through the steps so you can finish your degree.

Stay positive about your relationship with technology

Finally, If you’re trying to reconcile your relationship with technology, try not to say things like “I’m not techy” or “I don’t know how to use computers” or “I hate my phone.” When you say these things, you can start to believe them and to act like this is true.

You can be realistic about your skills while still being positive. Change your vocabulary and say things like “I’m still learning how to use technology” or “I can learn how to use my computer well.” As you open your mind to the possibility that you could be good with technology, your brain will go to work and help you learn!

Your tech past is not your tech future

Remember Paul, who didn’t even know how to send an email when he went back to college? With some help, he learned how to use the tools and finished the 8 classes he had left on his degree. Now, he’s received at least one promotion at work, enjoys his dream job, and has even finished his master’s degree! His experience at college helped him add computer skills to his résumé too.

This can be you, too. By the time you graduate, you’ll be a lot more comfortable with computers than you may feel right now, but you don’t have to be a computer scientist or a TikTok expert to START back on your college journey.  Your brain is capable of wayyyyy more than you think it is, and you don’t have to figure out technology on your own!

Hopefully by now you’re feeling motivated to go back to college. If you don’t know where to start, click or tap this button to complete the easy C2C application

P.S. If you read to the end you’re probably thinking of a friend who needs some encouragement in their tech journey. Print it out if you must, but why don’t you share this article with them?