Adulting isn’t easy! When we are kids we always say, “I can’t wait until I’m an adult!” But that reality sets in once you reach that milestone of 20, 30,40,50 and beyond. Whether it’s marriage, career, kids, bills, health concerns or just the everyday of keeping the everyday moving. Adulting is hard.
And sometimes on top of all the everyday stuff is that dream of going back to school to finish, to get a higher degree or just to improve your own potential.
But, earning a degree is different for adult learners than for those fresh out of high school. Now that you’re at a different time in your life with more defined goals, life skills and experience your focus on going back to school can be for different reasons.
But as you ponder your next steps before or after retirement what do you need to ask yourself about taking the plunge and going back to school?
Will I Have Room in My Schedule?
Balancing a job, family, and other obligations with school won't be easy. But it can be done. With the right amount of planning, you can too. When talking with school representatives, ask how many hours you can expect to spend in class and doing class work. Then, create a plan for how to divide your time each day. Simply knowing you have a plan can go a long way.
Beyond this plan, you'll need support from those around you. Before you start classes, let your family know that they'll have to pitch in a little more while you’re in school. Then, talk with your friends about why you’re continuing your education and how much this means to you, so that they can offer emotional support and will understand if you miss the occasional get-together.
Have I Been Out of School Too Long?
In reality, your life and work experience will likely benefit you as a student. Instructors appreciate adult learners who ask informed questions and bring real-world examples to class discussions. Besides that, if you've participated in continuing education courses, learned new software, or had to prepare for presentations at work, then you’ve already been using many of the same skills you’ll need in school.
Today, nontraditional students are becoming the norm and schools often design undergraduate and graduate degree programs with adult learners in mind.
Am I Skilled Enough with Computers or New Technology?
Online programs, these days are designed with ease of use as a key goal for everyone, regardless of technological expertise. So many careers require computer skills today anyway, so, while it might sound stressful, brushing up on your tech knowledge will be good for you.
Will I be Able to Manage the Cost of My Education?
An important aspect of returning to school is knowing what return on investment to expect from your program. Tools like the government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook can offer helpful details about the value of education in specific fields. If you’re worried about the cost of degree completion, make sure you explore all options—including federal financial aid, employer tuition assistance, military benefits, and scholarships from private and public organizations. By transferring credit from past college experience, you may be able to save time and money. And remember, you can always take one or two courses to start and not a full course load.
Moving Forward with Confidence
Remember, age can play in your favor when going back to school. Life and work experience often teach lessons and skills that young students rarely possess, things like time management and not being afraid to seek help when it’s needed. As an adult, you’re likely more organized, responsible, and motivated to get your degree.
Remember going back to school now means you are doing this for you and for your own dreams, aspirations and goals.
Blog article by Yolanda Webb, Vice President Home and Community Based Services