I recently sat down with my mother, who is pushing her early 60’s. A topic that comes up time and time again is how much she had wish she finished her degree when she first attended college. I connected with her immediately because I too gave up on the dream just a few years into the program because I wasn’t enjoying the direction.
As time goes on, you begin to feel the weight of that decision. In a lot of ways, it becomes one of your major life regrets because you not only didn’t follow through on your goals but now you’re stuck paying for it well after the fact.
Times have changed…
Though tuition does continue to increase each passing year, one needs to look at the long-term benefits of having a higher education (degree) versus riding out an undesired career path that may only give you raises based on the cost of living changes.
I know there are millions of us out there that have given higher education a run for its money but couldn’t follow through due to attention, scheduling, or down-right fear of the future. Well, not anymore, because now is the best time to make the commitment and go back.
How does one reenter a higher education environment?
My first recommendation is to use online tools to understand your current level of understanding of topics taught in the field you’re considering. The site barronstestprep.com takes you through the major tests, such as the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, and PSAT. A comprehensive look at all these tests will help you understand where you stand on a formative level.
My second recommendation is to take a long, hard look at what you thoroughly enjoy because as they say… “when you do what you love it never feels like work”. Perhaps it’s a hobby you thoroughly enjoy or maybe it’s interacting with others & managing teams? Each of us have a handful of skills we’ve refined over the years that are very viable in the marketplace if we had the degree that would allow us greater freedom and responsibility.
My third suggestion is to get a jump start, after you’ve talked with an advisor and have made up your mind for career goal, into using online resources which provide high-quality, online classes for you to learn about said topic. There are many MOOCs (basically online classrooms) that allow you to explore those topics, for free, to see if it’s something you’re truly interested in pursuing. Taking time to mull over the basics could actually sway you from the original idea and land you on one that you have true passion and drive to complete.
My fourth suggestion is to build up the courage and head over to one of the local community colleges. There you will find the aid and resources needed to get you enrolled in a program. There is no pressure when you talk with the counselors. You may find that old credits are still relevant to the degree which will allow you to skip many semesters (and keep costs low).
My fifth & final suggestion is to let it be known to friends & family. By putting it out there you are building a network of support. Since these aren’t your friends/family when you were young they understand responsibilities and hold you to them. Try to talk with one or two of them each week about progress and issues; great friends & family will be there for your support and give you the motivation to continue with your plan.
I know it sounds scary especially if you’re an older individual having to sit in on classes with kids fresh out of high school but look at the long-term gains from your actions. You are pivoting and changing your lifestyle for the best and in the next year, two years, or four years, you will be thanking yourself, tremendously, on finally building the courage to go back and complete what you started.
Best of luck in your journey to higher education!