Once you reach a certain age and find yourself surrounded by all the typical markers of adulthood — family, home, job — it’s natural to reflect on the path you’ve taken and wonder if you’re on the right course. For too many adults, the answer is a lukewarm “maybe.” If you’re finding yourself thinking about what might have been, consider taking some steps toward realizing your ideal career vision.
Going back to school doesn’t need to be as expensive and time-consuming as you think; in fact, plenty of adults are entering the classroom and preparing to shift careers, gain skills, and claim the lives they always wanted.
Turn Your Goal Into a Reality
The first step in returning to the classroom is getting a clear vision of what you want for yourself and your career. You may begin this process by simply thinking about the things you want to have in your life that are currently lacking, like a higher salary, or more time with your family. Start by exploring how much you want to earn and the approximate work environment you’d like to have. Then you can research some of the industries expected to grow the most in the coming years to give you an idea of where work will be available. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports these projections regularly, and it can be a great source to jumpstart your dreams into reality. If you already have a clear dream job in mind, you can dive right in to becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Identify (And Defeat) Hesitations
Going back to school can bring up anxieties and hesitations in even the most confident future student. As you begin your journey, examine your hesitations and come up with solutions to move your forward. Concerned about how you’ll finance your degree? The Federal Student Aid office compiles several useful resources and checklists that can help you find resources to fuel your studies. As Forbes reports, there are number of free and low-cost programs available for adults returning to college, and you can also anticipate some added relief in the form of tax breaks, scholarships, and grants.
Find The Right Program For Your Needs
Once you’ve made the decision to return to school, you’ll need to identify the program that fits your lifestyle and your interests. Depending on your situation, you may want to explore online, evening, or even study abroad opportunities. There are a number of online college resources to assist you in your search for the program that meets your budget, schedule, and academic and career goals.
Online schools offer much more in terms of programs than some may think. You can pursue high profile degrees like a Master of Business Administration, Masters of Social Work, or RN-to-BSN online. Furthermore, financial aid is just as easy to obtain for online schools. By completing a FAFSA you’re eligible for grants, loans, and additional assistance if you have served in the military. Online school is your best choice if you’re trying to learn while maintaining your current job, as you may have much more freedom over your course schedule.
Reflect and Reassess
It’s important not to lose sight of your overall goals as you navigate the world of adult education. You will likely encounter many stumbling blocks in your path, but keep in mind that, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, a college degree can be a major contributing factor to earning a higher salary in your chosen field. The hard work of going back school as an adult will pay off in the long run, but be sure to build in ample time to re-energize and reflect on how far you’ve come before pushing even further toward your future.