Thinking about going back to college? Greater Minds offers the following advice on how to overcome the most common barriers that keep adults from getting back to college and ahead in life.
# 1: Define your educational and career goals.
Before you begin researching colleges and programs, it’s best to identify your motivations and interests. Knowing what you would like to achieve, including your prospective major and career goals, will make it easier to select the college and program that’s right for you. For help defining your goals, visit http://www.mynextmove.org.
# 2: Explore the many options and resources available for financing your return to college.
Ask your employer about tuition assistance as many offer tuition reimbursement. Also determine your eligibility for receiving financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Visit www.finaid.org for comprehensive information and resources such as repayment calculators, needs analysis, information about commercial savings and search tools for scholarships. If you have defaulted on a federal student loan, you may still be able to get back on track. Please visit http://www.myeddebt.ed.gov/borrower or call 1-800-621-3115 for further details.
#3: Understand your worth.
Recognizing that adults are accomplished people with many achievements, most colleges offer college credit for learning that occurs outside the college classroom. At many colleges, students can “test out” of a course or develop a portfolio demonstrating prior learning outside of the classroom. Regardless, it is a worthwhile exercise to start reflecting on, and listing, major life achievements and what you have learned from them.
#4: Assess your schedule.
Whether you are a first-time college student or a returning student, you need to establish how much time you will be able to devote to pursuing your degree. This will help you identify which college and program is right for you. It will also help you start planning how to balance your life, work, and college schedules.
#5: Develop your support system.
It is important to identify one or more support people in your life who respect your desire to return to college. Try to line up a network of supporters: from backup babysitters if you have children, to a colleague at work with whom you can talk about classes and stress levels, to a good friend who won’t let you skip a class because it’s cold and raining and the car’s broken down.
Don’t just take our word for it! Here are some additional tips and trick to keep you motivated to return
and complete your degree!