Deciding to go back to college as an adult can be challenging but ultimately makes great sense for a lot of reasons. StraighterLine can give you plenty of options to get started in your quest to go back to college, but first, here are some of the benefits of getting a degree as an adult:
- You may still be deciding what to be when you “grow up” and looking at degree options can help clarify what direction you want to go. Whether you want to choose a career, change careers or go out on your own, additional education can supply the credentials, information and connections you need to make that dream job a reality.
- Your company says you can advance your career with them…if you get a degree. If you’re eyeing the next level of your career but need the degree to make it happen, you can totally make that happen—and your employer may have a program to help defray the cost for great employees like you. Talk with your employer about tuition reimbursement and discuss what your next job might look like.
- You realize you need new knowledge and skills to stay competitive in the job market. Afraid of getting phased out by young whipper-snappers or worse, robots? Now is the time to take an inventory of your interests, emerging job markets, or industries that desperately need solid employees with a skillset you can develop.
- You know that exercising your mind helps you stay young. Don’t let the routine of life dull your mind. If there’s something that interests you, learn about it! Your interest in something different may lead you to new horizons you’ve never even considered.
How You Can Go Back to College as An Adult
Education is changing and there are now several ways for non-traditional students who’d like to go back to school to consider completing their degree:
- Quit your job and go full time to get a degree as quickly as possible. This option will not be available to many working adults, however in some cases, it can be a solid option if you can complete the degree quickly by focusing full time on your studies. To make this work for you, do your budgeting homework and take control of your financial aid situation. You never know unless you crunch those numbers.
- Continue to work and attend school part time at your local college or university. Many colleges and universities have turned their attention to the adult student population, so there may be many options in your area. Explore them all and ask questions about financial aid, non-traditional office hours, and class schedules, times and sizes.
- Take online college courses that fit your schedule and lifestyle. Online classes have revolutionized education for working adults and a variety of online learning platforms exist, so they’re not “all the same”. You can get an affordable start on your degree by taking transferrable online classes through StraighterLine, a great way to see if you’re a good online learner.
Pros and Cons of Going Back to College
You can always think of reasons why you should or should not get a degree when you’re an adult working full time. One day it seems like a great idea and others, you’re too overwhelmed to even consider going back to college. Ultimately, listing the pros and cons of returning to college can clarify your decision. Here are some general pros and cons to get you started:
- You can probably get a degree quicker if you can get credit for work and life experiences. This is something that actually happens, so you’ll want to do some research about the colleges you’re considering to see if they can give you prior learning assessment (PLA) for things you already know and do. Put all that work experience to good use!
- Taking classes online probably fits your schedule and life better than driving to classes a couple times per week. An online program offers flexibility that on-campus classes can’t deliver, even if you live close to campus. With the array of online programs and types of classes available, the odds that you can find a program to fit your needs increases daily.
- You have more motivation to get good grades and earn your degree quickly if your career advancement depends on it. Turn that motivation into career acceleration by having those conversations with your employer and the potential college degree programs that might fulfill the needs of both you and your employer.
- You can get grants and scholarships that are specifically for adults returning to school. Believe it or not, millions in scholarship funds go unclaimed every year, much of it for adult students. There are scholarships available for grades, career tracks, even weird things like how tall you are, so if you need a little extra to make things happen, start applying ASAP!
- If you decide to keep working and get a degree, your free time will be spent studying for tests. This can be a huge adjustment and can be overcome by scheduling set times for you to study and take tests, especially if you’re an online student. A little discipline goes a long way.
- It might take you longer to get a college degree as an adult, because you have a job, children and a house to take of, so you’ll want to consider the timing of going back to school. Are all the kids in school yet? Is your family supportive and willing to help with chores you normally handle? Having these discussions ahead of time can save everyone stress later.
- You may need to learn how to study all over again if you’ve been out of school for a long time. There may be some classes, like math or speech, that scare you. A study schedule can come in handy here, too, and your university, friends and family have tools to help you overcome academic roadblocks—all you have to do is ask.
- You may need to take unpaid time off from your job if the degree you’re earning requires some sort of internship. If your degree does require an internship, you’ll need to have discussions with your employer well ahead of time. You may be able to complete your internship at your current job site, or they may be willing to alter your schedule, so you can complete your internship hours quickly, especially if your degree will benefit their company.
If you’re afraid to go back to college as an adult because you think you won’t fit in with younger students, taking online college courses makes perfect sense. Professors and students benefit from the contributions of adult students who bring their experience to the classroom. They want you to succeed. A great way to get started is to see how many classes you can take through StraighterLine.
Going back to college is definitely challenging and having a good plan and good communication are key. If you’re considering ways to change career paths, advance in your current career, learn emerging skills needed in your current position, or consider yourself a life-long learner, StraighterLine has options for you. Check into our free lessons to experience an online college course first hand.