Having more knowledge does give you the edge to advance in your career. In the current highly challenging economy and job market, working adults often ask: Should I go back to college? The question keeps popping up regardless if you are considering going back to college at 25 or even at 40.
This predicament is especially the case for those employed for several years, feeling stuck in their careers or hungry for advancement. Higher education and better qualification can potentially open more options make you more marketable in your career.
This article aims to help you commence your new journey on the right track.
First: WHY should you go back to college?
Going back to college requires a high level of commitment on your part. Therefore, you need a high degree of motivation to push you through the years in college. Any of these reasons can give you the encouragement you need to determine your WHY:
- Job security: Higher education also means you are a better asset to the organization. In the eyes of employers, your commitment to pursue education also means you are committed to the profession.
- Marketability: Your options on job placements automatically increases when you are better qualified. Your Resume would command higher value with specialized skills and expertise.
- Confidence: Deeper-level knowledge will enable you to communicate better with the management and leadership of your organization. A degree with a specific major can also turn you into a resourceful go-to person.
- Higher salary: Research has proven that degree holders command a higher salary and better perks from employers.
- Networking: Enrolling in a college also means making dozens of new friends, faculty members, alumni and building ties with professional associations.
- Career change: You may have hit the limit on your current career and feel it is time to switch careers or pursue your dream job. A bachelor’s or graduate degree level education will enable you to change positions with ease, especially after gaining years of experience working.
Understanding your WHY would enable you to align your goals in obtaining a degree that benefits you in the long run.
Second: What is the right degree for your goals?
You need to choose your degree wisely – a degree that fulfills your academic and career goals. The following questions can help in your selection process:
- Are careers with this degree growing in demand?
- Will this degree help me develop new and more advanced-level job skills?
- Will I be able to break into a new career or new organization?
- How can I advance in my career with this degree?
- How passionate am I about this field of study?
When selecting a degree, also decide between a generalist or specialist degree. Both types have their pros and cons. Weigh them according to a career plan that is right for you.
Third: Choose the Right College
With the advancement in information and broadband technology, many colleges offer both on-campus and online degrees. If you cannot afford to quit your job, selecting an online college will make the most sense. You can read about how online colleges work here.
Consider these matters when evaluating online colleges:
- Is the college accredited?
- What support services does the college provide?
- How hectic is the college schedule? Will you be able to cope and balance between work, study, family, and other commitments?
- How much transfer credit can you receive?
- How much does it cost? Does the college charge lower fees for in-state and online students?
Another fact is that research has shown that employers weigh traditional on-campus and online degrees equally. Thus, do not worry about the quality of an online degree.
Fourth: Develop a funding plan for your degree
Financial limitations are usually the primary reason for people to leave college before obtaining a degree. However, having a funding plan allows you to pursue your academic dream wisely.
The cost of obtaining a degree varies a lot between colleges, programs, majors, and whether done on-campus or online. You can ask the following questions to explore funding opportunities:
- Does the college offer grants or scholarships?
- How can you maximize transfer credits to reduce costs?
- Would your employer help offset tuition costs?
- What are the most affordable loans you can get if you need one?
- Which professional organizations offer grant and scholarship funding?
It would help if you explored every funding opportunity before taking a student loan. Taking out a loan should be the last option as you also do not want to be burdened with student debt.
Fifth: Develop a study plan to complete your degree
With the motivation you have gathered, strategize a proactive plan to complete your degree successfully.
Planning and preparing will protect you from getting overwhelmed.
- Review the program and develop a schedule for study, work, family, and play.
- Allocate regular time for revision, research, and coursework.
- Talk to your employers and family about your academic pursuit and obtain their support.
- Identify the people you can get help and support from – for both academic and personal matters.
- Design a conducive learning environment for success – remove distractions and promote productivity.
- Get acquainted with technology – do not let software and technical issues scare you.
- Develop a success mindset and do not let anyone, including yourself, induce self-doubt and discouragement.
- Create a visual picture of the outcome that aligns with your WHY.
You may not realize this right away. But once you are highly qualified, you would accept more significant challenges and leadership positions at work. Hence, a considerable improvement in salary and options within the profession.
Remember, a college degree is an investment in yourself. Apply all the strategies and steps above and invest wisely to reap the rewards soon.