If you have been working for a few years and hit a promotion wall due to the lack of a college or graduate degree, you’re in luck. Today, millions of mid-career adults are choosing to go back to school and earn diploma’s in relevant subject in order to jump start their job paths. Some stick to the same industry while others choose entirely new lines of work.
It’s up to you to decide on the key ingredients of this strategy. For example, do you want to change gears and go into a totally different field, earn your entire degree online, take night/weekend classes while you hold down a full-time job? All those questions, and many more, are part of the decision process you’ll go through when you choose to re-enter the world of academia and further your education.
Here are five things you should do before attending that first class.
Make a Detailed Schedule
Make a day by day schedule to include class sessions, work hours, study time, and recreation breaks. Going back to school as an adult can be challenging, but you’ll do yourself a world of good by making a precise, hour by hour plan of what each day of the week will look like once classes begin. Don’t leave anything to chance.
This planning phase is the perfect time to root out problems and schedule conflicts that you’ll be able to deal with in advance. If you will be working full-time or part-time during your coursework, this schedule will keep you from becoming frazzled and stressed out. The main thing to remember is to really dig down and plan out each hour of each day.
Be open to amending it later, but you can’t amend it until you’ve created the original document.
Set Academic and Job Goals
Have a clear-cut set of academic and job goals and write them down. Consider posting them on your desktop or fridge. After all, you decided to return to school for a reason. So be clear in your own mind about what you hope to achieve during your education and after.
Some people shoot for a certain GPA or for graduating with honors. When it comes to jobs, list some specific titles and industries that you plan to enter. This step will come in very handy when you create a fresh resume.
Get Your School Financing in Order
Unless you are one of the exceptions to the rule and intend to pay for your education with cash, apply for a private student loan in order to take advantage of competitive interest rates, reasonable terms, and long repayment periods. The key thing to remember is to apply for private education loans without cosigners.
Why? There are plenty of reasons. First, when you apply alone, you’ll not be tied to someone else’s credit score and will be offered an interest rate, and other terms, based on your own creditworthiness. The second advantage is perhaps the most essential, which is you will have the chance to boost your credit score as soon as you begin making payments on the loan. When you have a cosigner, you lose that key benefit.
Private loans will primarily use your employment history, current income, and credit scores to set rates. It’s always to your advantage to apply without a cosigner.
Speak with a Career Counselor
Locate an independent career counselor or use one at the school you’ll be attending. A half-hour session with a career guidance professional is worth its weight in gold.
These folks know the lay of the land when it comes to the current job market, what kinds of salaries you can expect, and what specific courses you should take to make your degree all the more relevant. If you have a current resume, bring it to the session and ask the counselor to give it a quick critique. You can learn a lot in 30 minutes, so make the most of your meeting.
Arrange Your Lifestyle for School
In addition to making a written schedule, you’ll probably need to make various arrangements with respect to other people in your life. If you have a spouse and children, be doubly certain to keep them in the loop when you create your schedule.
Make plans for babysitters, transportation to and from class, and other logical concerns.