Should You Go Back To College?

August 24, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Did you know that there are literally millions of adults going back to college? Itís true! So, if you are considering returning to school to get your undergraduate or graduate degree, you will certainly not be alone. GoingBackToCollege.org ( http://www.goingbacktocollege.org ) offers the following tips.

As you are well aware, going back to school as an adult can seem more daunting than continuing right after high school. As an adult you have much more to consider due to your increased responsibilities. For instance, you may be married, have children, have a job, be a volunteer in your community, or even be caring for your parents. Juggling these commitments with the commitment needed to gain a degree can be very challenging. Challenging? Yes. Impossible? No!

No one can answer the question about going back to school except you. However, for many people, it is the right choice. Those with higher education tend to have a higher salary as well as more career options.

Letís take a look at some facts from the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Labor:

1. The average worker with a bachelorís degree earns 60% more than the average worker with a diploma from high school. In real terms, this means that someone with an advanced degree is likely to earn more than $1 million more over their lifetime than someone with high school diploma!

2. High school graduates with no advanced degree are twice as likely to find themselves unemployed than someone of the same age with an advanced degree.

3. Almost three-fourths of all work positions in the future will need at least some kind of degree, certification, or license.

4. Jobs requiring a bachelorís degree will grow twice as fast as other jobs.

All of these statistics show that furthering your education may very well be a wise investment in your future.

There are many reasons that adults go back to school:

1. To increase their earning potential
2. For advancement
3. To enter a new career due to choice
4. To enter a new career due to circumstances beyond their control
5. For personal fulfillment

If you fit any of these categories, you are a likely candidate for returning to college. Luckily for you, going back to school is getting easier and easier! More and more colleges understand the growing adult population of students and offer the services such students need. You are likely to find day care, flexible schedules, online courses, credits for work, and many other innovations.
The first big hurdle for most adult students is how to finance the college experience. Do you quit your job? Will you qualify for financial aid? Where do you find scholarships? Can you work and go to school? As the adult population returning to school continues to grow, more and more financial solutions are available.

You do not have to get perfect grades or have a low income to get a scholarship or financial aid. The truth is that most scholarships are concerned more youíre your background, your talents, your ethnic origins, or your association with specific organizations.

To begin, you should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA. You can get this application through any college or by going online to www.fafsa.ed.gov. By filling out this application, the federal government will determine if you qualify for a grant or a low interest loan. Grants never have to be repaid, while loans have to be repaid once you have completed your schooling. Since this is a first come, first serve service, it is best to apply just as soon as you get your taxes filed each year.

Next, you can start applying for scholarships. You can find specific ones at the college, on the Internet, as well as in your local library. If you use the Internet, be sure not to use the sites that charge you money. You can do the research yourself and come up with the scholarships you need without paying a cent! You can also ask the librarian to show you the books that list scholarships. Once you have a list of available scholarships, you determine which ones fit you. For example, if you are a member of a community organization, they may very well have a scholarship. Or, if you are pursuing a specific course of study, there may be scholarships available for those! Keep in mind that you can never apply for too many scholarships!

Some large companies offer help with tuition through tuition assistance programs (TAP). Many adults going back to school are unaware that their company will help them and end up paying the cost alone. Be sure to check with your company! The way to find out whether your company offers such a program is by contacting the human resources department. TAP will not only pay for your tuition, but will often pay for books and you will receive a tax exemption!

-MORE-Keep in mind that such programs have guidelines and restrictions. You may have to earn a degree in a certain major. Additionally, you will have to complete classes, sometimes with a certain grade point average, in order to use the TAP. And some companies determine how much of the tuition they pay based on the grade point average (GPA). For examples, Aís may get 100% tuition, whereas Cís may only get 75%.

Another requirement may be that you have to remain at the company for a specified period of time after receiving the degree. If you donít, you would be required to repay the company for any college tuition and benefits.

Of course, even after you've figured out how to pay for college, there are still more questions to be answered. These include finding the right college and degree, juggling your other responsibilities, transferring old credits, and getting maximum college credit for previous career and military experiences.

To get a better grip on the entire process, visit http://www.goingbacktocollege.org to request a free copy of "10 Things You Positively, Absolutely Need to Know Before Going Back to College."