Boosting your education is one of the most common New Year's resolutions. As January rolls around, people all across the country start to think about the degrees they left dangling. You might be one of them!
Asking "should I go back to college?" is one thing. Answering the question is another. There is not one easy answer.
Going to college at any time involves many variables. Going to college after you have been away from school for any amount of time gets even more complicated. How would you balance getting an education with the other demands on your life?
This is just one of the factors you must take into consideration when asking this exciting yet terrifying question. We will run down the others for you now, in our guide to going back to college.
Read on to educate yourself on the process of re-educating yourself.
What to Know When Answering the Question, "Should I Go Back to College?"
This is a question that begs more questions. It is a lot easier to get lost in the process of asking than it is to find answers. One of the reasons is that the answers are highly personal.
Only you can know whether or not a return to higher education is right for you and your situation. But everyone can know the right questions to ask to get to that answer. We hope to guide you through those questions to make the most informed decision possible.
Here are the things you should consider when deciding whether or not to return to college.
Asking the Question Is Its Own Answer
The fact that you are wondering is a good indication that you might enjoy the return to learning at the college level. If you have to ask, you may already know.
That does not mean we are saying everyone should go back to college, just that the question speaks to an interest you owe it to yourself to follow through on exploring.
Rethink the Sweet Escape
There is one group of people who should definitely not return to college. If you are asking yourself the question because you can't think of anything else to do with your career or future, college is probably not the right choice for you.
There are many people who do this. They think returning to learning will be easy. They want to live off the student loans they will rake in over the course of their continued education.
Those loans require repaying eventually, and if you return to college without a clear path for what you want to learn, the education is not likely to be very satisfying.
Prioritize the Search for Skills
Let's talk about defining that path now. Perhaps the reason you want to return to school is to earn more money in your field. People with bachelor's degrees out earn people with only high school diplomas, so this is not a bad reason to go back.
There is an even better reason, though. In the current employment landscape, skills are even more valuable than the "B.A." or "B.S." on your resume.
With technology evolving rapidly, the way many workers become obsolete is by not learning the skills they need to keep up with new systems. Think of the way some seniors react to computers, and you will know what we mean.
Guide your own college by thinking about the skills you want from a college degree and finding the programs that will give you those skills.
Building the Foundation to Switch Fields
There is one reason for going back to college that will require a totally new set of skills. That is when you want to switch fields entirely.
This is a valid reason for returning to school. It is unlikely you will get far as an engineer if your training is in zoology. Just make sure you know the prerequisites and courses you need to actually prepare you for this career change.
Your Old Credits May Transfer
Perhaps you have already completed some higher education courses. That work is not lost. Even if you are switching fields entirely, you may not need to throw out all of those credits.
Many degrees have general education requirements beyond the requirements of your specific major. Dig up your old transcripts to see if you have any of those already covered. You may be further along than you think!
Online courses are another great way to get a head start on those general education requirements and ease yourself back into a study schedule.
Keep in Mind the Balance of Your Life
In the time since you left college, you have accomplished a lot. You have a whole life for yourself that many of your college-going peers will not have. Do not feel ashamed of this.
This does mean you will have more considerations than the so-called "traditional" college student. You may have kids and need to arrange childcare. You may have work obligations you need to schedule around.
Whatever your conflicts, do not let them keep you from pursuing your education if you really want it. And do not let college take over your life either.
You want to return to school for yourself, not other people. Pursue your degree with your own values at the forefront of your mind and build a schedule and a life that fits those values.
To Go Back or Not to Go Back?
This is only the tip of the iceberg for considerations when it comes to answering the question, "Should I go back to college?" We hope you are not overwhelmed. You really can do this if it is important to you.
We are happy to help. Check out our course offerings to get restarted on your higher education today.