What You Need to Know Before Going Back to School
Whether you’ve been out of school for two years or two decades, you’re going to find things are very different once you return to the classroom. For starters, your classroom may no longer be a physical space. Online learning has come a long way in a short amount of time, and it’s given students – especially adult learners – accessibility and flexibility they’ve never experienced. Being able to access your classes through your phone or tablet was just the beginning; tech companies are betting big on education, while schools are investing in learning tools to be used exclusively by their students.
No matter which way you choose to earn your degree, here are things you should know before going back to school:
1) Don’t keep it from your boss
Even if you’re looking to switch careers, don’t be afraid to tell your employer that you’re pursuing a degree. Companies value workers who dedicate themselves to learning new skills, and a lot of them pay for it. Find out if your school has an employer tuition assistance program, and then tell your boss or human resources manager about your intentions. Imagine how great it will feel to earn a degree knowing that you won’t have to stress about finances.
2) Transferring credits is easier than you think
The pressures of family and work often force students to put their educational pursuits on hold, and some don’t realize that previously earned credits may have value. Don’t let them go to waste. If you’re looking to resume your Bachelor’s degree program online, get in touch with an enrollment advisor at the beginning of your search.
Keep in mind, grades matter, although requirements will vary from school to school. Be sure that your previous credits make the grade for your new Bachelor’s degree program. You’ll also need your transcripts in order to transfer previous credits to your online degree program.
3) Financial aid is within reach
Do your research. The U.S. Department of Education’s FAFSA4caster is a free calculator that can help you determine your eligibility for federal student aid. You should also take advantage of the resources your school makes available, and ask to speak to a financial services advisor to determine your eligibility.
4) Convenience matters, but so does preparation
Some of the greatest college success stories come from students who managed to earn a degree while juggling the priorities of work and home. As mentioned above, online learning has its advantages, but don’t assume you can put off important reading and papers until the last minute. Stay ahead of your studies by creating a calendar at home or work, and keep in touch with instructors to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
Being prepared also means staying on top of technology, the last thing you want is to miss an important deadline because of browser or Wi-Fi issues. Knowing the system requirements will save you time and money.
Returning to school is a great risk, but it can lead to even greater reward. You shouldn’t be afraid of the experience, just make sure you take all the steps necessary to ensure that it pays off for you.
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Written by Jason R. Latham, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education