According to H&R Block, 62% of teenagers follow the financial model of their parents. College is one option for a person who wants to earn more than his or her parents. Before deciding on the necessary education to obtain a more fulfilling career, it is important to ask: is going back to college right for you?
First, consider what a college education will accomplish. Research job fields to discover which jobs require a two-year or four-year college degree. Some jobs may only require classes at a technical or vocational school. Others may require shorter training classes taught by certified experts to get the experience or certification. Sometimes licenses and certificates are enough to get started in a certain career, and the investment is a fraction of the cost of four years of college.
Second, consider the cost of college versus other short-term options. Remember to factor in the future benefits a college degree offers, like better working environment and increased-paying jobs. For working adults, government grants and assistance are available to help pay for school. Most schools will help file paperwork for loans, including extra disbursements the student can use to help pay for school-related charges.
Some companies offer tuition reimbursement and will help pay for some, most, or all college expenses. Check with human resources departments to find out which companies offers these valuable programs. Many organizations offer grants and scholarships as ways to help fund college educations. Unlike student loans, most grants and scholarships do not have to be paid back at the end of school. Check the requirements carefully, as some do require repayments if the student drops out of school.
Remember that students always have to pay back the money borrowed in the form of student loans, even if the degree is not completed. Make sure that the degree chosen offers careers with competitive wages high enough to cover the monthly student loans students must pay after graduation.
Third, consider the right school. Life is busy, whether because of work, family or travel. Adding school into the mix is a big commitment. Luckily, there are a variety of different ways to earn a college degree that meet the demands of busy adult lives. Many schools offer online classes. Some degree programs and universities are finished completely online, so students can take classes and turn in homework whenever is most convenient, whether that’s at 6:30 in the morning or 11:45 at night. Some classes meet in the evenings, once or twice a week, or run exclusively on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Graduate programs offer a “low residency,” where the work is done almost exclusively online and students only meet at the school once or twice a year for one to two weeks at a time.
Finally, consider the student's support system. Going back to school is a big commitment and will take sacrifice. Weeknight dinners with girlfriends are replaced with group study sessions. Spouses might have to cook more often or take up extra shares of the household chores. Children will need to understand why parents can’t play a third game with them or why they can’t get on the computer at that moment. Having someone in the student's corner encouraging and helping them with life’s daily responsibilities is important to factor in when deciding if heading back to school is the right decision.