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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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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