The thought of returning to college can be intimidating. But remember how great you feel when things click and you have that “aha” moment. Focus on the opportunity and do some prep work to be ready. With a little forethought you can address your fears by creating a game plan for obstacles you may encounter. Finances, time constraints and lack of accessibility to quality programs for career success are among the reasons people put off returning to school. There are solutions for you to discover as you get started on a path toward earning a degree.
It is estimated that more than one-third of current undergraduate students are over age 25. Many schools today are better equipped to work with adult learners to help them succeed, so you are not alone. The following three tips provide solutions for facing some of those fears.
1. Investigate the financial resources available. The cost of school has almost definitely been on your mind. Conquer this fear by understanding the resources available to you. From scholarships and grants to financial aid to corporate tuition assistance there are many ways to pay for your education. Many students find a combination of resources necessary.
You can also explore how previously earned credits transfer saving you time and money as you return to school. If you have military experience work with a school knowledgeable about veteran’s services to help you get the most of those funds.
2. Create a plan for finding the time for school before you enroll. This is a topic I often discuss. There is a time commitment required to earn a degree. To address your fears be proactive in learning how many hours a week you can expect to spend studying. Then figure out how to balance your work, family and life commitments with this new challenge. If you’re thinking easier said than done, you’re not alone.
Think about the following questions to formulate your plan for overcoming this obstacle:
- Is there one night a week you can dedicate to attending classes, or if you are studying online, can you block out time for coursework?
- If you have a family, are you able to sit down and do homework with your children? Do you have family or friends that can babysit?
- Can you utilize your lunch breaks at work to find a quiet place for reading? Or can you take your book to the gym to read while you walk on a treadmill?
3. Envision your success. Many adult students wonder if the time and resources dedicated to earning a degree are worth it. The reality is a degree cannot guarantee you a job, but research indicates that those with a degree will continue to find employment at a higher rate than those with less education. This trend has continued to grow, especially as the workforce changes to rebuild the economy. A McKinsey Institute study stated: “The US workforce will continue to grow until 2020, but under current trends, many workers will not have the right skills for the available jobs.” To effectively pair your degree with your goals, take the time to find where job growth will be and align your studies to those fields.
While you may have some fears, do not let that hold you back from returning to college. When you start with a game plan to address any concerns you have, you can handle obstacles as they arise and stay on the path to earning your degree.