There’s a popular notion that you’re never too old to go back to school, because learning is a lifelong process, but if you’re supporting a family, it’s not so easy to just pick up and enroll in classes. No, you have to carefully consider what you stand to gain from going back to school and how changing paths will impact your whole family. If you’re considering returning to school after some time away, asking these 4 questions can help you make sense of the process and determine if going back to school is right for you.
What’s Your Career Goal?
Most adults who decide to go back to school are doing so because they want to improve their career prospects, which is why this question is a good place to start. Depending on the change you want to make, you may not need to pursue a full degree program; many people can expand their professional options just by pursuing a certificate program. People who want to completely change fields, on the other hand, such as those who interested in pursuing a career in nursing, on the other hand will need to opt for a more traditional baccalaureate degree.
How Long Will It Take?
Most adults returning to school don’t want to commit years of their lives, full-time, to their training – or even if they wanted to, most can’t afford to do so. As you’re assessing the programs available to you, then, it’s key to consider how long you can spend in school. That includes how many credits you can take at a time, as well as how long your program will take to complete.
Be sure to ask your admissions counselor what the expectations are for part-time and full-time students. Attending a targeted training program rather than a conventional college can cut the amount of time it takes for you to reach your goals. If you’ve previously attended school without completing a degree, you may also be able to transfer some of your credits, which will help you complete your certification or degree more quickly.
Online Or On Campus?
Even compared to just a few years ago, more schools are offering online programs, as well as combining on-campus and online classes in what’s known as blended learning programs. As with the decision between traditional degree programs and certificate programs, this decision often hinges on whether you need to work while in school – but that’s not the only consideration. Many administrators note that older students don’t always have the tech skills necessary to thrive in online programs. If you’re not feeling confident about your tech abilities, it may be less stressful to opt for an in-person program.
Do You Have Support?
Perhaps the most important factor of all when it comes to going back to school is having the support you need to navigate the process, including resources at school and emotional support at home. If your family doesn’t support you going back to school, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, but you do need to set clear boundaries with them about what you expect and need from them during this time. Your family and friends should be cheering you on as you pursue further education. You’re doing something great and exciting to improve your life and your future.
Going back to school isn’t something to undertake lightly, but by asking these questions, you can better ensure that you’re making the right choice for you. More adults are going back to school than ever, so you’ll be in good company.