Going Back To School

With the economy the way it is, many people are considering going back to school to brush up on their skills and improve their prospects in the job market. If this describes you, here’s what you’ll need to know.

If you’re returning to school, we’ll assume you’ve been in the workforce for a while; if you’re going for an undergraduate degree, you may be able to receive credit for previous experience. Talk to an advisor at your school and find out if you can apply previous college credits or test out of lower-level classes. On the other hand, you might need remedial work in some areas, most likely in mathematics; your advisor can tell you how to set up a placement test to determine whether you’re ready for classes. A college education isn’t for everyone, but someone who’s been in the workforce and is making an informed decision to go back for more education is well-positioned to succeed.

Going back to school after an absence isn’t easy; one of the largest challenges can be the financial issues. Remember that financial aid is available even for adult learners, in the form of Pell Grants and Stafford Loans. The trick is to cut down on expenses; it’s really difficult to go from earning a decent wage to living on a student budget!

If you’re planning on going back for a graduate degree, congratulations! A master’s requires less time than a bachelor’s degree, and if you’re going for a master’s or PhD, you can likely find a position as a graduate teaching assistant so that you don’t have to pay tuition. Graduate study is much more difficult than undergrad and can be a struggle, especially for those who have been out of school for a while. If you can handle the workload, though, it’s worth it; there are a lot of advantages to getting an advanced degree, in both employability and elsewhere.

For those who are planning to focus on school for a few years and then reenter the workforce, try to participate in activities, such as internships and campus jobs, that provide experience to interest potential employers; while getting an education is a great thing, it’s always helpful to keep beefing up your resume! You only get so many years in college; make the best of them!

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