Many adults return to school for different reasons. As time goes by, industry needs and job security evolves and changes, leaving many people with education gaps in their field. Other people decide on a career change or advancement to increase their financial security. Some people just need a change.
Whatever your reasons for revisiting post-secondary education, taking time to reflect and plan is a must. Here are six essential considerations before going back to school.
What Are Your Goals?
Before you take the leap and enroll in an educational program, you should take some time to outline your goals and determine if this is the best option for achieving them.
Outline your ideal future, long-term financial goals, long-term career goals, and desired lifestyle. From there, reverse-engineer your goals to determine what educational support you’ll require to accomplish them. There could be several potential paths to your destination; identifying the best way forward is a must before investing in more schooling.
What Courses Hold Value?
Next, determine what courses and programs hold the most value as you pursue your long-term goals. This exercise may require looking at your previous academic merits and work experience. If you’ve already completed some education in your desired field, you may only require some course upgrades. Alternatively, you could be starting from square one.
For example, suppose you’ve already completed courses toward a bachelor of science degree. In that case, some credits may transfer to a similar or entirely different degree, such as those in the Degree programs at ACS – ASOMI College of Sciences: click here to discover the degree programs at ACS.
This step of the decision process tends to be research-heavy. Take your time, and don’t hesitate to reach out to post-secondary institutions to ask questions.
What are the Financial Implications?
Education is, unfortunately, quite expensive. Many adults returning to school after an extended period already have financial responsibilities, like rent or a mortgage, and even raising a family. Finding the money to pay for schooling can be a daunting task.
Take some time to crunch numbers and determine whether returning to school is financially viable. Understand how much it will cost, and investigate how you can break those costs into smaller, more manageable bits. Talk to your bank to see if you’re eligible for a student line of credit or a low-interest borrowing plan if needed.
What is the Time Commitment?
Finding the time to attend school is also a challenge. While some programs can be completed part-time, others require a full-time commitment. If you have other responsibilities and a full-time job, even part-time studies can be a balancing act.
Many courses outline the time commitments for estimated workloads and course completion. Again, don’t hesitate to reach out to the schools you’re considering and ask for clarification.
Will Your Employer Help?
If your continued education adds value to your business, you may be eligible for employee assistance. Talk to your employer about your goals and see if they can offer any financial assistance. If direct financial aid isn’t possible, talk about holding a flexible schedule or borrowing program.
Employer buy-in is also a must for logistics and planning as you navigate your continued education. You may have to take personal days for exams or need additional support for time and stress management.
Where are the Courses Available?
Finally, determine where your courses are available. Is everything you need available online, or will you need to go in for labs and lectures? Are there campuses nearby, or will you have to commute? Fortunately, many programs are now available online after the events of 2020.
Going back to school as an adult can be intimidating yet incredibly rewarding. Keep these essential considerations in mind as you make this major life decision.