Best Options for Career Improvement

The idea of going back to college when you are an adult can seem daunting. Despite that stress and anxiety, returning to school to get training in your chosen field is worth the effort. There are many adults who are accomplished but who have never attended college or who didn’t finish. Graduating from college with a degree can make a huge difference in your salary while also giving you a sense of personal achievement. However, returning to college after being out of school for a lengthy period can be challenging.

Many adults who decide to return to college after spending years outside of the classroom are nervous about their ability to take notes, study and to do well on their exams. They may also worry that the commitment is simply too much for them to handle. Navigating the financial aid and admissions processes may seem frustrating and confusing. But returning to college may end up being one of the best decisions that you have made.

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Is it Worth it for You?

To determine if returning to college is worth it, you should start with a cost-benefit analysis. Start by comparing the salaries of jobs that do not require a degree versus jobs that do. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average salary of construction trades workers in 2016 was $47,580. By comparison, architects earned an average salary that was nearly double at $84,470. Installation, maintenance and repair workers earned an average of $37,940 while engineers earned an average of $96,440. As you can see, getting a degree in a related field can have a large impact on the amount of money that you can make, and your new career might also be one that you’ll be able to keep longer.

The Longevity of Less Physical Careers

Many careers that require degrees are less physically demanding than jobs that do not require degrees. For example, construction workers have very physically demanding jobs. They must lift heavy tools, climb structures and work in the elements. Often, construction workers are exposed to extreme temperatures. By contrast, architects perform more work inside. They plan the buildings that the construction workers will build and do not have to work in uncomfortable conditions. Maintenance workers may also work long shifts and be expected to remain on their feet for hours each day. Many engineers spend their time drawing and planning designs for machines, roadways and bridges and have fewer physical demands. Because degreed positions are less physical overall, you’ll likely be able to work in them for many more years. Workers in labor positions face much higher risks of work-related injuries and may develop disabilities because of the physical demands on their bodies.

Putting the Plan into Action

If you have decided to return to school, there are some steps that you can take in order to put your plan into action. You will first need to decide what type of degree that you want. Some people want to complete their bachelor’s degree while others may decide that they want to complete a technical or associate degree.

After you have determined what type of degree you’d like to obtain, you will then need to research different colleges to identify ones that offer the program that you are interested in. Once you have found the school that you would like to attend, complete the school’s application and submit it. Decide if you want to return to school fulltime or instead to take classes part-time. You should also decide whether you want to work fulltime during the day and take evening classes. Finally, you should not overlook online courses. Many adults find that they are convenient since they can log in and access the course from anywhere. Check with your employer about any assistance that your company offers for workers who decide to return to school.

After you have returned to school, you can talk to your employer about internships that might be available in your intended career area. If you are not employed, you can seek out internships at a variety of different companies in the career field in which you want to work. Many companies end up offering jobs to people who have done well in internships with them, helping you to land your dream job immediately after you walk across the stage and are handed your diploma.

Financial Help

The expense of going back to college scares off many potential learners. However, adults who are returning to school may have several options available to them so that their studies are paid for. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement programs for their employees. If your company has one, you simply have to show your grades at the end of the semester to get your tuition amount paid back to you. Your employer may have partial or full tuition reimbursement plans available. Even if your employer does not list one, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

There are state and federal grants for which you might be eligible if you meet the financial criteria. You should also research scholarships. There are many scholarships that are designated for non-traditional students and for first-generation college students. Spend some time online researching scholarships and applying for any for which you might be eligible.

If your tuition is not fully paid for through tuition reimbursement, grants and scholarships, there are federal student loans available. While these loans should be your last choice, they can help to pay for your education. When you graduate, your higher salary can more than offset the costs of completing your education.

While it can be overwhelming to think about going back to college as an adult, choosing to do so can help you to fulfill your lifelong dream while also helping you to advance in your current career or to start in an entirely new field. After you put your plan into action and enroll, you will find that returning to school is much easier than you might have imagined.