Stuck in a professional rut? Need an education to help catapult your career forward? Time to finish that college degree you started but left incomplete for whatever reason? Gunning for a salary increment? Looking to explore a new career path? No matter what your reason, going back to school is an important decision that can help you achieve your professional goals.
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Here are a few reasons why going back to school to pursue and complete your college degree is a good idea:
- Increase your earning potential
- Get promoted at your current workplace
- Add new skills to your professional repertoire
- Work towards a career change
As an adult learner, there are certain things that you need to know about pursuing the bachelor’s degree or master’s degree you’ve always wanted. Check out our guide for instructions on how to navigate the journey.
How to Get Started if I Want to Go Back to School?
First things first – let’s talk about why going back to school as an adult is a necessary step for you. As mentioned above, you could be looking for a career change and need to acquire the higher education required to break into a new field. Another possibility is that you decided not to enroll in a degree program after high school and now want to pursue one.
It is important to understand your objectives before you take the plunge. Here is an essential to-do list to help get you started:
Connect with professionals in the field and set your expectations
When you choose a particular field of study, you must speak to professionals in the industry to get an accurate idea of what to expect. They will help you weigh your options, explore full-time degree programs or online courses at different colleges and universities, and give you a general idea of the current career prospects in the field of your choice.
Compare degree program options
Going back to school for a degree means researching the following:
- What kind of programs are available?
- What courses will you learn as a part of these programs?
- Which schools offer a well-rounded structure that blends theoretical and practical learning?
- Which program aligns the best with your professional goals?
Consider all the costs involved in returning to school
While most school and college degree programs for adult learners are quite affordable, it is wise to compare program costs and features before enrolling. A full-time degree at a college might feel like a financial burden to those who don’t have the funds.
Do some research around the costs involved and financial aid packages available
There are several federal grants, financial aid programs, work-study programs, scholarships, and student loans that can pay for your college courses and cover the essential costs of education.
Make sure you look at the various tuition fees, course material costs, and other expenses involved and align them with the federal, state, and institutional financial aid you can get.
NEIT’s Net Price Calculator can also show prospective students what the cost of attendance would be, minus any grant aid for which a student may be eligible.
What Are My Options for Going Back to School?
When you have decided that it is time to go back to college, you’ll want answers to your most pressing questions. Here’s a look at some key considerations:
Degree levels – Choose a degree type according to your needs
What kind of degree program are you looking for? You can use the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook if you aren’t quite sure. Depending on your existing educational qualifications and future career goals, you can choose the type or level of degree you want to pursue at school.
- Associate’s degree: An associate’s degree typically gives you a solid foundation in the subject and equips you with the basic skills to apply for entry-to-industry positions.
- Bachelor’s degree: A bachelor’s degree program gives you a well-rounded understanding of the subject along with practical training so you can start working as an entry-level professional in the industry.
- Master’s degree: Master’s degrees generally dig deeper into the subject that you already have some background in, teaching you advanced concepts and armoring you with the key skills required for working as an advanced professional or expert.
Majors – Choose a major that fulfills your career aspirations and interests
The options might seem confusing or even overwhelming if you aren’t sure which direction to take. However, the good news is that you are free to choose the field of your liking – from computer science and graphic design to engineering technology and business management – the options are truly endless (even for older students).
Healthcare, finance, IT, business management, marketing, and technology are some of the most sought-after and rewarding fields today that are worth going back to school for.
It is best to choose a major that excites you – subjects that align with your passion. Consider the ones you already have some background in, so it is easy for you to adapt to your program contents.
Schools – Lookup the best in the business before signing up
Once you know what type of degree you are after and which subject you wish to specialize in, start looking for prospective colleges.
Start exploring things like academic reputation, quality and experience of the faculty members, course structure, class size, learning environment, cost of attendance, and student reviews or alumni testimonials while doing your research.
You can complete most of our degree programs in as little as 18-36 months. Industry experts have designed the courses, having kept what’s new and in demand in mind.
With flexible learning options for those who want to return to college, New England Tech is an academic haven for motivated learners. For added convenience, the classes run during four start dates every year:
Learning formats – Gauge which model is the best choice for your needs
Adults have different learning needs compared to younger students, and most modern-day colleges and universities recognize that. For instance, if you have a full-time job and wish to go to college without giving up your work, learning formats like online training or hybrid classes are better suited to your needs.
Here’s a quick look at the learning formats that have become popular in recent years:
If you are going back to school and don’t have a job, the standard training format at schools is a full-time on-campus program will work for you. While the overall system isn’t ideal for older students who also have a job to attend, today’s colleges accommodate your needs by offering night classes, weekend classes, and part-time training.
The last 12 months have been an eye-opening experience for educational institutions and people who opposed the idea of learning online. Online courses are convenient, flexible, and self-paced, making them an attractive prospect for adult students.
Often, with a job, family obligations, and other responsibilities, the standard isn’t viable for most older learners. They prefer signing up for career-oriented online degree programs that allow them to learn on the go, complete the courses at their pace, and earn their qualification without being physically present on campus.
The hybrid learning model of education has evolved to become one of the most preferred formats for students across demographics. If you are heading back to college, you might want to consider a school or university that delivers training in this format.
Hybrid learning combines the best of both worlds, so you can learn online and visit the campus for essential practical training or group activities during your course.
Complete the Required Pre-Admission Testing
Some school, college, or university programs might have pre-admission exams or interviews to filter candidates who apply for enrollment. When you do your research on the different institute options, make sure you look at the admission procedures for each one of them.
Find out everything there is to know about the application process, prerequisites, eligibility, form submission, admission process, etc. Most colleges have dedicated admissions officers to help you out with this. You can also visit the respective university websites to understand the detailed process.
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Ask questions about the training model, program flexibility (as an adult student), subjects covered, cost of education, financial aid, career prospects, internship opportunities, and placement assistance.
Typically, you will need to fill out a form, submit transcripts and standardized test scores, write an SOP, and provide letters of recommendation before a university or college calls you for a personal interview.
Transferring your credits is a good idea if you want to accelerate your education. If you have attended a school or college before, transferring those credits may enable you to graduate faster (and at a lower price point).
All you need to do is get your transcripts sent from your older school to your new one for evaluation. The more you transfer credits, the lesser courses you will have to take when you go back to college.
The Myths About Returning to College
Going back to school might feel like a daunting task to some, but there are a few misconceptions that make it seem tougher than it is. Below, we’ve busted some of the most common myths surrounding higher education for adults and returning to college.
It’s too late to go back to college. I’m no longer the right age.
It’s never too late. In fact, it’s quite the opposite when it comes to age and education. If you have spent a couple of years (or decades) working, you are better equipped to understand complex concepts and subjects.
Having field experience puts you in a great position to apply logic and perspective to everything you learn in class. Whether you are 25, 35, 45, 55, or any other age, it won’t matter.
Going back to school and balancing your work and other commitments is too difficult.
While this certainly is a valid point, online classes, hybrid training models, and microlearning can help adult students find the perfect balance between their school work, daily job, family responsibilities, and other miscellaneous obligations.
Going back to college will burn a hole in your pocket.
Sure, the cost of education may not come down anytime soon, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from working towards their professional goals by pursuing a career of their choice. You are likely eligible for some financial grant, scholarship, or loan that helps cover your education cost.
Online education programs are also available for a lower price tag than on-campus options.
A college degree holds no real value in the job market.
This is a huge misconception. Most employers look at your educational qualifications when screening candidates for a specific position. It is one of the first things that recruiters often look for in an applicant. The more specialized the role, the more likely employers will choose a candidate with a degree.
START YOUR NEW CAREER PATH TODAY
Earn your degree in less than two years from NEIT and begin your new career path today!
Can I quit my job and go back to school?
Yes, you can, and you should if you want to! Many people around the world quit their jobs to pursue or resume their college degrees. Whether you want to explore a new career path or make significant advancements in your existing career by adding new skills and qualifications, quitting your current job and going back to school is possible.
How do I prepare myself to go back to school?
More than anything, you will need to prepare yourself mentally to return to college. Apart from the preparatory steps mentioned in this article, going back to college involves setting clear goals and motivating yourself to achieve them in the short- and long-term.
How do I go back to school with no money?
It is possible to start studying at a good college without having the financial resources to cover education costs. You can explore various federal grants, loans, scholarships, work-study programs, and similar financial aid packages that can help pay for your college. First things first – apply for federal aid by filling out the FAFSA.