Is Now a Good Time to Go Back to School?
Ultimately, you and I will have to answer this question based on our current individual skills’ training, educational, and employment needs. First, think about why you enrolled in a technical college, graduated, or left without graduation. This is the jumping-off point to tell you if you want to finish that two-year degree, upgrade your degree skills, or switch majors and/or jobs.
For many, now is an excellent time to go back to school because their jobs and careers are in jeopardy. If there is little chance for finding another job similar to yours, go back so you can be more marketable.
If your knowledge and skills are lacking in your career, go back and prepare to stay in your field of work. If you are an older adult, you have a lot to think about.
The following ideas serve as a guide in making this crucial decision for your financial stability, career, and deciding if now is the ‘right’ time to go back to school.
How Are Things Different Now In the Economy and Your Family?
Obviously, things are different now for you or you would not be reading this. Right now, most employees are thinking about these differences:
- Has my family composition changed that will affect this decision. Do you now have a partner and/or children who will have input in this decision?
- Will it be necessary for me to move to another city or can I commute daily to school?
- Is my job disappearing or is my industry fading away?
- Can I attend classes and still work full-time or part-time?
- If you quit school before graduating, did you have the abilities to be successful?
- Can I afford to pay my bills and still live comfortably while in school?
During the next year or two, will you have enough time to spend with the family and attend to their needs?
Do You Have a Plan to Achieve Your Goals?
To go back to school at this time or in the near future, you must have viable goals and a plan to succeed. First, what degree do you want and should it be a technical degree? Next, think about a school that has a strong reputation for excellence in training and a high graduation rate.
If you have a family, will they support your educational efforts that will take time away from them? You must determine if you are really motivated to take on this new challenge. Have you decided on a place and a time to study effectively out of class? Will you participate in study groups to learn more efficiently? A point in your favor if you are older is that you will most likely have a greater appreciation for college than youth right out of high school.
“Ultimately, you and I will have to answer this question based on our current individual skills’ training, educational, and employment needs.”
What Is Your Current Level of Motivation?
You must decide if this change in your lifestyle will be worth it. If the answer is “Yes,” then definitely make your plans to start. Is there a job demand for the additional education and training you will receive? Do you know of employers that are seeking college grads with the type of education you will receive?
Whether you go back to school part-time or full-time, remember that it will be a challenge. If you are middle-aged, you may need to spend more time studying than when you were 20 years old. If you go back to college, you must sustain the motivation to succeed when daily life gets tough. You may or may not be a football player, but remember the old adage in this sport, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Do You Have Your Family’s Support?
Going back to college with a partner, spouse, or children at home will be a major change for them. Think about whether you have their support by asking them for their input. Challenges will arise, and you may need them to adjust their lifestyles at times for your benefit. It may not be easy for them because of the time spent away at school and studying.
It may be necessary to have a daily or weekly family session to resolve issues that arise. You must prevent small issues from becoming major barriers to your college education. You may need to think about how attending school will affect your current job performance. Having a high level of reinforcement from family, friends, and colleagues will be welcome support.
How Will You Finance Your Education?
If you are like most people, you can’t afford to pay for tuition, books, supplies, and commuting expenses out of your current paycheck. The solution is to spend sufficient time to apply for:
- Federal and state grants
- Work-study programs
- Small loans
The more scholarships you apply for, the better the chances of landing several instead of just one. They are potentially available from the college, labor unions, local agencies, foundations, clubs, societies, and foundations. If you are a veteran, put their financial help at the top of the list. By giving all these ideas your undivided attention, you will be headed in the right direction!