Education is an important life goal; you can always go back to school! It doesn’t have to be age-specific. As long as you have a plan, and want to learn, you can return whenever you want. The benefits of a college or trade school education are the same for anyone: a better brain, exposure to social life, and opportunities to build your career.
Do these sounds like things you want in your life? You should take a second look at a degree or licensing program if it’s true. However, questions may come up when you think about school again. Why should I go back? What will happen if I do? Where do I begin the search? Don’t worry too much about specifics. Start with your intentions.
Why Go Back to School?
Your initial “why” is the most important because school gets hard. You want to have a good motivator to fall back on. Despite popular opinion, higher education isn’t for everyone. We all have different intelligence types that need their own cultivation. If you’re interested in a trade, a technical or vocational school would be a wiser choice. You can hone your craft in a better environment, and the same goes for apprenticeships. All these choices will provide you with the benefits we talked about earlier. Choose one to focus on.
If it’s the brain benefits, you should probably focus on a low-cost or free school online. If it’s a social life, you could skip that altogether and focus on finding friends. A solid choice would be if you’re wanting a career where more training and knowledge is required. Taking career aptitude tests, personality quizzes, or even starting a journal for a few months as you explore salable skills will finetune your decision to return to education.
What to Search For
If you’ve decided to further your education with college/university, the next step is to decide on your major. This should be directly relevant to your desired job type, or at least in the umbrella of your industry type. This way, your investment in education will place you as close as possible to the career path you want.
After your major, look into which facility will support your dreams the best. This is where budget and location come into play. The same goes for trade and vocational schools. While they don’t have the breadth of university education, their focus will speed you toward your goal, which makes it more important that you decide what you want before applying.
Unfortunately, education is a business, which means money drives it forward. We live in a time where college debt is a staggering amount; Americans owe $1.53 trillion in student loan debt. You must make double sure that you’re willing to gamble with this career path. With careful planning and scholarships, you can make smart decisions in managing your budget. The upside of this is that many community colleges offer budget solutions. They understand the college path is an expensive one, and often work with students when starting out. Check out a local community college and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
You may be fortunate enough to live within driving distance of a university. Research what they specialize in, their career advancement opportunities(such as internships), and what their values are as an organization. Colleges are mini-cities with their own personality, so make sure the one you choose aligns with what you think is important. Also, use this as an opportunity to grow your business network or make some new friends.
Another choice is online college. With technology’s advance, we can educate ourselves on our time at our pace. However, the disadvantage of online education is it can make communicating harder. If you’re used to having conversations, the slower email or chatting process can drag.
How to Apply
The college application process is fairly straightforward. You’ll need your transcripts from previous schools, complete your FAFSA, check your selected university’s deadlines and requirements, then apply.
Trade schools are much more accepting. There are usually no deadlines for applying, and most have an online application. More good news is that these schools don’t have stringent requirements like SAT scores or essays.
Once accepted, you’ll be back in the academic setting. In contemporary times, we have so much support in the education structure. Depending on your institution, there will be counselors, success coaches, tutors, and career advisors all available to you to ease you along your path. Be sure to know your intention, that way, you will be mindful in asking for help.