Returning to school is a huge decision that many adults consider at some point in their career. There are many benefits to going back to school, whether to earn your undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, or even a certification. However, juggling school as a working professional, especially if you have children or other responsibilities, can be challenging. The process can seem daunting and you may not be sure if this path is for you. There are several factors to weight when making this heavy decision.
What are your goals?
Right off the bat, you want to identify what your goals are when deciding to head back to school. Knowing what you want to accomplish with further education will help to make further steps and search for specific programs. For instance, if you want to advance in your current career, you might consider a Master’s degree. Changing careers completely might require a new Bachelor’s degree or certification in that field. Having career goals in mind will help make future decisions on which programs align with those requirements and qualifications.
Consider the class schedule
Most adults returning to school are also working full time. Many even have children and families to take care of on top of that. It’s important to understand from the beginning what type of class schedule you are able to handle. Fortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed many educational programs to go virtual, allowing students to earn their degree online. Night classes and part-time courses are also options to consider. It may take longer to earn the degree, but the flexibility of different programs nowadays is a huge plus. From the beginning, be sure to determine what kind of schedule will work for you.
Make a financial plan
Education is expensive; there’s no getting around that. Tuition, textbooks, and commutes all play a factor when figuring out a financial plan. Many universities will offer loans and financial aid. Be sure to do your research and apply to scholarships if applicable. You’ll want to establish which programs and schools are realistic for you financially.
Meet with an academic advisor
Goodwin University in Connecticut advises speaking with a professional in order to begin networking and learning more. They say, ” An admissions counselor or academic advisor can help you through any difficulties such as getting financial aid, re-enrollment and transferring credit, inflexible class scheduling, poor study skills. They can also counsel you in career direction and help you create an academic plan. This is a key step when starting the enrollment process and carving your path towards your degree.”
In the end, going back to school looks different for everyone. It takes a lot of consideration of several different factors. Knowing what works for you and your lifestyle is crucial before beginning this journey. Should you ultimately decide to return, take advantage of all the opportunities further education allows and always think through your choices.