Following Your Passion: Advice for Adults Looking to Go Back to School
Tired of your dead-end job that barely pays the bills and stresses you out to no end? Many who feel this way have decided to return to school as a solution. While you might be thinking that hitting the books isn’t your idea of relief from your stressful job, obtaining an education in an area you’re more interested in could lead to more money and an improved quality of life. If going back to school as an adult is something that interests you but also scares you a bit, these tips will come in handy.
Choose an Area of Study
The first order of business is to determine what you’ll be going back to school for. The area of study, major, or degree program will ultimately determine which paths you can take after you’ve graduated. Here are some tips for choosing your area of study:
- Align with your interests – One way to choose an area of study is to align it with your interests or passions. If you’re interested in fashion, for instance, you might be inclined to obtain a fashion merchandising degree. If you were instead interested in starting your own business, you would want to major in business management or administration.
- Choose based on existing experience – If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you may want to choose an area of study that best aligns with your in-field experience. This can make learning easier and can essentially help you advance in positions within your present company.
Choose the Right College
Once you have an idea of what you want to study, you need to begin looking for a college that offers degrees or certificates in those areas. When choosing the best college for you, there are other factors you’ll want to consider:
- Costs of education – You want to know not only how much it will cost for college but what options are available for students who can’t afford it.
- Type of curriculum – What is the school’s learning style? What kind of lessons will you be learning?
- Location – Distance can take a toll on you financially, therefore, you’ll want to choose a college located near your job or home to save on commutes. For those with really taxing schedules, going to an online college or university may suffice.
- Groups, activities, and organizations aligned with your interests – Though you may not be living out your days on campus trying to hit up every party scene there is, you still want to have fun and be able to be a part of the college experience as an adult. Therefore, look for schools that have groups and activities that align with your personal interests.
Finding the Funding
Here’s the fun part about returning to college – finding a way to pay for it. Unlike high school students who have an opportunity to apply for scholarships and grants, these often aren’t available to adult students. Therefore, you’ll need to look at various financial resources. Some include:
- Financial aid – Depending on your financial status, you may be entitled to receive financial aid to back to school. Find out from the admissions office how this process works.
- Your employer – A lot of companies realize the importance of investing in employee development and as such, may be willing to pay for all or a portion of your college education. Find out from your human resources department how the process works before signing up for classes. You may be required to keep a certain grade point average and/or submit an invoice each semester.
- Student Loans – Although not a good first choice if you have no other means for paying for your college education, student loans can be very helpful. Apply for private and federal loans to lower your out of pocket expenses for college.
When you have the chance to do something you love, you should jump at the opportunity. Going back to school to further your knowledge and follow your passions is admirable and exciting. Take precaution as you review the areas of study, available colleges, and funding options available to you. After finding the college for you, all that’s left is to dress to impress, put your best foot forward, and do the work required to accomplish your dreams.