1. Decide If You're Ready to Go Back to SchoolGoing back to school sounds glamorous, but it’s really a whole lot of hard work. Are you ready? Make sure you know what you want and have the support you’ll need in place before you set out on your new adventure.
- Should You Go Back to School?
- Haven’t Signed Up for School Yet? Maybe You’re a Structured Procrastinator
- Most of the Top 50 In-Demand Jobs Require a Degree
- Tips for Older Students: Going Back to School
- Tips for Older Students: 5 Tips for Fitting in at School
- Tips for Older Students: It’s Not All in Your Head
2. Choose a DegreeOnce you’re sure it’s the right time to go back to school, make sure you know exactly what it is you want to do with your degree so you know which degree to get. That sounds obvious, but it’s an important step.
What do you want to study?
What will you do with your education?
Are you getting the right degree for the job you want?
3. Take a Few Career TestsThere are assessments and quizzes available to help you figure out what you’re good at and what you like to do.
4. Make an Appointment with a Career CounselorCareer counselors are available in almost every city and at almost every school. Check your phone book, search online directories, ask your local librarian for help, and, of course, inquire at your local schools. If you don’t like the first counselor you meet, try another. Finding someone you like and can relate to will make your search so much more enjoyable. It’s your life you’re talking about.
5. Choose Between Online or On-CampusNow that you know what you want to do and which degree you’ll need to do it, it’s time to decide what kind of campus is better for you, a physical classroom or a virtual one. There are benefits to each.
Is cost an issue? Online courses can cost much less than traditional courses.
Do you learn better in a social setting? Or do you prefer to study on your own?
Do you have a quiet place at home and the technology you need for online learning?
Is there a local school that offers the degree you want, and is it convenient?
Are you the kind of student who needs face-to-face time with your teacher?
Do you have reliable transportation if you choose to learn on campus?
6. Research Your Online OptionsJamie Littlefield, About.com’s Guide to Distance Learning, has loads of information about online schools, including How to Choose an Online College. Visit her site for help on choosing the online school that’s right for you.
7. Research Your On-Campus OptionsThere are a lot of different kinds of schools out there. You have options depending on the degree you’ve chosen. Learn the differences between colleges, universities, and technical, community, junior, or vocational schools. Find out where they are in your area. Call and ask for a tour, a meeting with a career counselor, and a catalog of courses.
- 8 Tips for a Successful College Visit by Allen Grove
8. Make it HappenYou’ve chosen a school, and in the process of choosing, you may already have met with a career counselor. If not, call and set up an appointment with the Admissions Counselor. Schools have room for only so many students, and the admissions process can be rigorous.
Check out Spencer’s checklist too. He had just one year to go to get his degree.
9. Come Up with the CashIf you’re lucky enough to have a little time before going back to school, you may be able to take advantage of some of Ken Clark’s advice on his Saving for College site.
If you’re ready for school now, financial aid is available in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and other creative means.
10. Dust Off Your Study SkillsDepending on how long you’ve been out of school, your study skills might be a tad rusty. Brush up on them.
11. Improve Your Time ManagementGoing back to school is going to require some shifting in your daily schedule. Effective time management will ensure that you’ve got the study time you need to get good grades.
12. Take Advantage of Modern TechnologyThose of you who are Baby Boomers have seen a lot of technological change in your lifetime. You’re probably more adept at some of it than others, but at the very least, if you’re going back to school, you need to be competent on a computer.