With another New Year upon us, it's time to reflect on ways we can improve ourselves and our situations.
Are you among the majority of former college students who never completed your degree? If so, perhaps it's time to reconsider your educational goals.
Read on to learn more.
Why People Leave College
There are a number of reasons people never earn their degrees. Family obligations, stress, and medical emergencies are all common concerns.
But the most common reason is much simpler--cost.
Many of us are simply priced out of college. Between tuition, textbooks, room and board, and basic necessities, attending college can be prohibitively expensive.
In some cases, students can afford the cost for a semester or two. But all it takes is a change in employment or an unexpected expense to derail a college plan.
Why Returning to College Can Be So Hard
If a student drops out of college due to financial hardship, chances are they'll go right into the workforce.
With so many hours devoted to work and expenses piling up, there's rarely time to enroll in another college program.
You may still have the same educational goals, but you can't find a way to reach them. As you get older and your responsibilities increase, the chances of going back to school may seem even slimmer.
Alternative Ways to Meet Educational Goals
If it's not feasible to enroll in a traditional four-year college program right away, that's okay. There are still opportunities out there for people who want to get started taking college courses online.
Alternative course options can allow you to learn at your own pace. Taking one class at a time is more approachable than jumping into a full-time schedule at a traditional college.
Look for courses that allow you to tailor your experience to your needs. Online courses are often more convenient since you can do them from anywhere at any time.
If you're working late, you can catch up on coursework when you get home. Since you have greater control over your schedule, your work and family life won't have to suffer as you work towards your degree.
What to Look for in an Alternative Credit Program
As you begin to research different options, it's important to choose courses that will help you meet your educational goals.
Alternative Course Accreditation
Look for a company that's endorsed by the American Council on Education (ACE). It should offer courses that are recommended by the American Council on Education's Alternative Credit Project(TM) or their College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT(R)).
These recommendations mean that the courses are eligible for transfer credit at thousands of US colleges and universities.
When you're devoting time to bettering yourself, you want to be sure all that hard work will translate to a degree.
A Strong Support Network
Even if you're pursuing self-guided coursework, it's important to have support to help you reach your goals.
As you begin to choose courses, you may not know which ones will be required to earn a degree. You also may not know if there are any pre-requisite classes you should take first.
An enrollment counselor can help guide you through the process. Make sure someone is available to assist you in planning your course schedule. This can be done online or over the phone.
Career coaching is another resource to consider. If you're pursuing alternative education, it's probably because you want to advance your career or enter a new field. An experienced career coach can work with you to succeed.
Try to find a program that includes this service with your coursework.
You probably already have a lot on your plate. This doesn't mean you can't meet your educational goals. It just means you'll need a more flexible solution.
Look for a program that offers online solutions and eTextbooks. This will be a cheaper option for you. It's also much easier to tote around since all you need is a phone or tablet.
You'll be able to highlight and bookmark information without damaging a physical book. You can even study during your commute, some eTextbooks have a text-to-voice feature will allow you to listen to the book rather than reading on your own.
Even with the accessibility of alternative credit options, the decision to go back to college is a big one.
The most important thing to do is figure out what your motivations are. Do you want to advance the career you're in? Do you want to enter a new field entirely?
By answering these questions, you'll have a better idea of the type of degree you'll need to get there. Be prepared to do some research. Even if you know what job you want, there may be a couple of different degree options to choose from.
Once you've identified the degree you'll be working toward, look for an alternative education program that offers much of the necessary coursework. Make sure you'll be able to transfer the classes over for college credits.
Do your homework before you enroll to find the best options to help you meet your educational goals. To help you get started, download the guide "5 Ways to Get Alternative College Credits" to better understand the process.