"It's too late for me to go back to college."
"College is for young people, not for me."
"I don't have the time or resources to go back to school. I have to continue supporting my kids."
Doubts about returning to college or going to college for the first time are perfectly natural. Kids, work, and college stereotypes make it seem like we "missed the boat." These doubts, however, reflect an outdated higher education system not the reality.
In the current higher ed environment, the majority of students currently attending college are not the typical 18-year-olds braving the four-year university lifestyle. This population now only consists of 15% of those attending college. The remaining 85% of students enrolled in post-secondary education consist of those seeking an associate's degree or certification, enrolled part-time, and/or are over the age of 24.
Fall is here, the kids are back in school, and it's time for you make time for yourself and embrace fulfilling your dreams.
Returning to College This Fall: Why You Shouldn't Wait and How to Do It
Why You Shouldn't Wait
1. Income Increase
Statistics show that the more education an individual has, the more they earn in the workforce. The median pay for someone who only graduated from high school increases by 11% after receiving some college or an associate's degree. Someone who earns a bachelor's degree after completing some college or an associate's degree, increases their median pay by an outstanding 33%.
2. Satisfying Employment
We all know the saying, "Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life." After many years in the workforce doing work that is less than satisfying, it can be difficult to imagine that work could ever be enjoyable and fulfilling.
Higher education is the key that unlocks the possibilities of being in a career you love. It is possible to increase workplace happiness and fulfillment by seeking a career that is compatible with your personality, desired lifestyle, and needs.
3. More Confidence, Less Regrets
Dreams left unrealized can leave us feeling regret and asking, "What if?" We may always imagine that our lives would be better if only we had gone to college sooner and pursued our career goals further.
No longer are these regrets necessary because college is more accessible and flexible than ever! Grow your confidence by getting the education you need to make your dreams a reality.
4. Becoming a Role Model
Adult learners ("non-traditional students"), those 24 and older, continue to increase and dominate the post-secondary landscape. Education sectors project that by 2019 adult learners will compromise a whopping 86% of the post-secondary population.
Become one of these adult learners who sets a good example for their children and those around you. Show your family and friends that following your dreams at any age is a possibility and that education is a valuable asset. You're guaranteed to be a positive influence and possibly inspire someone else to go back to school as well.
How to Do it: Step by Step
1. Identify Your Passions
Maybe you already know exactly what you want your next career step to be. If you don't know, start by identifying your passions.
Ask yourself: What makes me light up? What do I want to contribute to the world and my community? What are my hobbies? What skills do I find most engaging?
2. Select a Career Path
Put your passions to work by selecting a career path that highlights your interests and provides you with kind of life you want. A passion for your career is ideal, but it also should be a good investment of your time and energy.
When selecting a career consider the practicality of your field of interest. Research salary, the hours typically worked, and what a normal day consists of.
For example, someone may have a passion for helping children and think that teaching may be satisfying. A normal day for a teacher, however, also consists of grading, communicating with parents, attending school functions, and managing a disruptive classroom at times. By knowing what a normal day looks like, evaluate whether or not you are willing to complete other tasks involved.
Taking a personality test, such as the Myers-Briggs test, can offer you insight into which careers may be best for your personality type as well.
3. Find the Time
Examine your current work, family, and social calendars. See how many hours per week you can delegate towards school and on which days. Also, consider what you can and cannot sacrifice in order to make the time.
Remember, college is now for everyone and many options exists to accommodate your current lifestyle!
4. Decide on a Best Fit
Attending college in-person requires time, space, and flexibility in order to succeed. This option is best for those with minimal life commitments, flexible work schedule, and interest in learning in a classroom setting. It's not for everyone and that's okay!
Luckily, in today's technology-driven world, there are other options.
Online college courses are a great way for students to save money and get the college credits they need to graduate. From 2012 to 2016, one million students opted for online education versus strictly attending college in-person, a decrease of 6.4%. Traditional online courses via an educational institution are best for those who have children or work full-time or part-time, but also have enough flexibility to complete assignments by specific due dates.
Self-paced online courses or alternative credits also allow for more flexibility and freedom to obtain college credits and degrees. Self-paced online courses fit into your schedule, so you don't have to worry about losing income. This option also allows you to save money while you earn college credits at a fraction of the cost.
5. Find the Right School and Apply
Research schools to find the best one for you. Learn how much it will cost per credit hour to attend the school and the quality of the education they offer. Figure out each school's financing options and if they offer scholarships for adults returning to school.
Speak with an advisor or student support and ask them about their policies, documentation needed, and academic requirements. Make sure to also ask if credits received at this institution are transferable should you decide to switch schools or attain an additional degree, such as a bachelor’s degree, in the future.
Once you feel confident about your decision, apply to your school of choice. Just like that, you're well on your way to securing a better future for you and your family.
Interested in Returning to College, but need Self-Paced Online Courses to Start?
Visit our courses page and sign up to take classes at Ed4Credit to meet general education requirements. We offer self-paced low-cost, "alternative credit" online courses that are transferable to over 2,000 colleges and universities across the United States.
Check out our blog for more information about attending college at every stage of life!