You may be thinking about going back to school if you find yourself in one of these circumstances:
- Took a gap year right out of high school
- Decided to work for a few years right out of high school
- You’re a stay at home mom who has been out of the workforce for awhile
- You’re a stay at home mom and this is your first time entering the workforce
- You’ve been laid off or downsized from work
- You want to expand your current career – increase your salary and responsibilities
- You’ve decided you want to change your career path all together
- You’re about to or recently retired
- You’re a veteran
All of the above circumstances demand that you ask some serious questions if college is the next BIG step to move in your desired direction, consider the following:
- Am I clear about what I want to focus on and why?
- Have I considered a variety of options as my next step or did I just immediately conclude that college is the answer?
- Why have I decided that college is a viable option for me?
- Have I done my own personal research to get crystal clear about my vision – where I want to land and what kind of position I’d really love to have (can I see myself doing this)?
- Have I talked to others who are doing what I think I may want to do – family members, friends, past colleagues, neighbors, etc.
- Have I looked at the Occupational Outlook Handbook and other relevant online sites for more info about responsibilities, skills, salary, etc.?
- Do I want to attend college full-time or part-time?
- Am I interested in the corporate, non profit, academic or entrepreneurial sectors?
These are just a few questions to consider . . . jot down a few more specific to your current circumstances.
If you decide, in your current circumstance, that college is part of your equation to get where and what you want, here are some important points to consider before planning your launch:
- Check out colleges close to home – this cuts back on commuting and other expenses; sometimes we overlook the opportunities right in our backyard. In-state tuition is a lot easier on the bank account than out-of-state tuition.
- Consider an accredited, well respected online program (the stigma around online education is no more; now you just have to make sure your program is a solid stepping stone that can help you get where and what you want).
- If you’re currently employed, check and see if an employee assistance program is available to attend college – there may be a program in place to defray or pay for your program of choice in full.
- Consider searching for state, federal and college funding to pay for your college education; a variety of scholarships from different sources exist for adult students, too; you’ve just got to do your research, which takes commitment, some digging and a lot of patience, but it’s well worth it.
- Keep in mind that scams exist. Scholarships are based on merit and need, not whether you can pay for access. REMEMBER: no one can guarantee you a scholarship, don’t pay any fees online for scholarships and never give these online sites your personal information.
- Tax breaks are available for all students, not just the traditional student who applies right out of high school. For example, check out the Lifetime Learning Credit.
For more detailed info, consult with an accountant who specializes in this area for assistance or setup an appointment with an IRS representative for a consult. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; it could save you thousands of dollars.
- Have you considered an adult internship (Movies: The Intern (2015) starring Robert DeNiro & The Internship (2013) starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (vying for a spot at Google)) – whether unpaid or paid, an internship is a great way to get exposure and explore work that aligns with your interests and aspirations.
- Don’t forget the foundation of experience you’re standing on as a seasoned member of the workforce and experienced adult; don’t think you have to start over. You may (notice I said, may) have to take a pay cut as you transition, but this isn’t an absolute.
- Go to college part-time; what’s the rush? Lesson some of the stress and overwhelm, if possible.
- Keep saving money as you attend college. It may seem impossible, but it’s not, just make a choice.
- Consider getting credit for your previous college courses (if you attended previously, but didn’t graduate). Did you know you can possibly get credit for skills and experience that can be converted into credit towards your degree (Life Experience Credits); or perhaps you can test out of one or more required classes?
- Consider federal and state retraining programs – many folks may ignore these programs thinking they exist only for the less fortunate, but many of these programs can serve as a bridge to get the info and support you need to move in your desired direction. Visit careeronestop.org, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. American Job Centers can help you find work, offer job search workshops, free computer access and more. All you have to do is type in your city and state and a list of centers with locations, times and other details will pop up. Use this service as a springboard for your research.
These are just a few things to consider if you’re thinking about going back to school. All of this can be overwhelming. If you need some assistance with your planning process, mining for scholarships, sifting and sorting through all of the info, let’s chat.
I’ve been here, made many mistakes and learned bunches from them. I’ve also worked with students of all ages at various stages of their planning process.
What’s important is that you ask for help, whether from me or another professional, there’s assistance to play this game smarter, so you can get where and what you want faster with less stress, effort, energy, and money.
Take a peek at RobbiCrawford.com where you’ll find a resource hub of freebies and paid services for students and families eager to play the college game better.
Sign up for an Introductory Consultation, available for students, parents and caring advocates. Let’s discuss your biggest challenge right now and some next steps to get you moving in your desired direction. If you need additional support, we’ll create a plan tailored to your specific needs.
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YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE, CHOOSE CONSCIOUSLY!