10 tips for adults going back to school

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Many people talk about going back to school; but they are not focused. Reasons for going back, financial considerations, and selecting the right school need thought.

Going back to school is a serious proposition and there are many things to be considered. Enrolling in any continuing education program requires dedication and the will to succeed. The following 10 questions need serious pondering prior to enrolling in a program.

Reasons for going back to school

What are your short term (next five years) goals in life?

Short term goals are the easiest to predict; however they may not be the easiest to obtain without proper planning. Do you plan to move up in the company or are you thinking about moving to another career option? These are choices which need thorough thought.

What are your long term (10 years and longer) goals in life?

Long term goals are easier to achieve; however they require more patience and planning. Most continuing education programs can take many months or years to complete.

Is now the right time?

Work and life experiences may hinder the full focus necessary to do well. When entering a continuing education program, the desire to do well is critical. Taking a program seriously is required to achieve desired results.

Will the continuing education program help achieve goals?

Enrolling in a program which will not meet short or long term goals is a waste of time and money. Going to school, just to go to school, is not a reason. The program must help meet desired goals.

What, specifically, will be accomplished by enrolling in a program?

Having a clear understanding of what is needed to be successful is vital and needs to be clearly stated in a program's objectives. Continuing education programs take time and taking needless courses is not recommended.

Why complete continuing education anyway?

The smartest choice a person can make is to invest in his or her own education. More education means a greater income. The National Center for Education Statistics for 2007 shows that someone with a bachelor degree will earn $22,000 more, on average, per year than someone with just a high school degree.

Financing your continuing education

How will you pay for the program?

Continuing education is expensive and many students drop out every day because of financial reasons. A clear financial plan is necessary from beginning to end.

Is tuition reimbursement or interest-free loans an option?

Many companies offer employees tuition reimbursement or interest free loans, which benefit the company's long term goal for more skilled employees. Companies require attainment of specific GPAs for courses in which they are willing to reimburse tuition.

Selecting the right school and support

Is the right school available?

Selecting the right school for continuing education is just as critical as deciding to enter a program. The school must offer the right program and courses to help achieve desired goals. A thorough research of programs and schools is required, along with school national ranking.

Do you have the necessary support?

Continuing education can only be achieved through sacrifice and missing important events. If married, the spouse must become a strong supporter. Friends must be willing to provide support and understanding as well.

Completing the program is accomplished through dedication and willpower. Success or failure rests squarely on your shoulders, no one else's. The short term sacrifice is well worth the effort as long term goals are met and success becomes apparent.