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Going Back To College? 5 Things Adults Can Do To Prepare

by Kaitlyn Wightman
Marketing Specialist

December 16, 2013

It may surprise you that the majority of college students today are not your dorm-dwelling freshmen. More than a third are older adults going back to college or starting college for the first time. This could be at a community college, online college or a traditional four-year institution. Whichever option you choose, pay close attention to the school’s accreditation. It means a lot. 

Going back to college requires preparation. Here are five tips to help adults get ready to go back to college. 

1.    Sharpen Your Skills

Chances are your skills need some refreshing before going back to college. Check out the free services in your community to redevelop your study skills and test your education level. Adult education programs, community colleges, career centers, TRIO programs, and community groups are a good place to start. And if you don’t have your high school diploma or GED, get it

2.    Create a Plan

Well, you’re all grown up. Do you know what you want to be yet? Chances are it’s still a little murky. Try answering these questions:

  • What kind of job do I want?
  • What are the strengths I can bring to this job?
  • Where do I see myself working? What environment do I work best in?
  • What degree will help me to succeed in this job?
  • What do I want out of going back to college?

If you’re at all unsure answering these questions, check out these online sources for information and tips on career planning:

  • mySkills myFuture: Explore new career options based on your skills and experience.
  • My Next Move: Find the right career for you, whether or not you’re sure you’re going back to school.
  • The Occupational Outlook Handbook: Get an in-depth look at your career of choice, from expected salaries to how to enter the field.

3.    Tell Your Family, Friends & Employer

Going back to college is a big change in your life and you’ll need the support of your family and friends. Explain your reasons and your plan, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

It’s also a good idea to sit down with your employer and tell them of your plans. Come prepared with a strategy for how you plan to fit school into your life. Not only will your employer be more open to working around your new schedule, but they also might also be able to pay for some of your education. Take advantage of any tuition reimbursement plan your employer may have. 

4.    Choose The Right College

Before going back to college, be sure to explore all your options by reviewing college rankings online and talking with a counselor at your local community college. He or she will push for you to choose an accredited institution — and there are many reasons why you should only consider an accredited school. 

Also consider taking courses or earning your associate degree at your community college first before transferring to a university. It can save you a lot of money

5.    Apply for Financial Aid

You may qualify for Pell Grants, student loans, scholarships, and other need-based aid. But you have to submit your FAFSA first.

Work with your college’s financial aid office to learn how to finance your education as well as what financial aid options work best for you before you decide to go back to school. 

Going back to college is a big deal. Start with these tips and make sure you choose the institution that best fits your career goals.

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