Whether you’ve had some undergraduate experience or have already earned a degree and started your career, returning to school as an adult is an empowering decision. The choice to continue your higher education is a personal one, but it’s not one you are navigating alone: according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 40 percent of all college students are over the age of 25.
When thinking about returning to school, take the time to recognize where you stand, where you want to go, and what it takes to get there. To help, we’ve provided answers to four common questions with our insights on where to start when going back to school.
Although there’s no simple answer for everyone, this is the most important question during the process of returning to school. Whether you’re looking to increase your earning potential or simply build your knowledge within a subject or field, higher education offers unlimited potential in helping you grow along your life journey.
If you were wondering about your financial future and earning potential with a college degree, there’s good news: according to a report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, college graduates earn 84 percent more than high school graduates, earning around one million dollars more throughout their careers than people who stopped their education with a high school diploma.
Understanding what type of education will help you reach your goals is a big part of determining whether going to school as an adult is worth it. There are many options available whether you want to stay in the same career path or switch completely. Carefully evaluate the differences between associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. And, remember there are also certificates and other short-term programs that may be just as valuable in your career.
If you’re switching careers, be sure you can make the case for why you want to make this move, to yourself and to your future employer in an interview setting. When thinking about further schooling to jump-start this career change, speak with industry friends or peers about the extent to which college degrees and certifications are valued. This will help you better understand your target industry and hopefully validate your reasons for switching careers.
Taking the time to review – or make – your budget and do some forecasting is crucial. You may choose to meet with a financial advisor or strategize on your own or with family. These steps will help you think through your options for paying for college while balancing other financial responsibilities.
The good news is paying for college without taking on student loans is possible. Don’t assume your income or age at this stage in your life takes you out of the running for financial assistance. Conduct some research online and leave no stone unturned! Scholarships from local civic organizations or religious institutions are also great opportunities to investigate.
If you’re currently in the workforce, you may consider asking your employer for assistance with your tuition. Tuition assistance programs vary from employer to employer. Some programs will reimburse an employee for their full tuition amount and some will cover only a portion. There can also be stipulations about how long an employee must stay at a company if tuition costs are covered. Check with your employer to gather all the details.
With family, work, or any other responsibilities that demand your attention, you’ll need to determine how college fits into your life – or how the rest of your time fits around school. Fortunately, modern higher education offers an increasing amount of options for pursuing degrees. Online college can be a flexible option for adult learners that allows them to schedule their classes and studies around the rest of their day, not the other way around.
Think outside of your immediate community and consider how the rise in technology has opened (virtual) doors for communication through computers. Students looking for college education aren’t limited by the options in their backyard, neighboring area or through other countries. Whether you take an on-campus or online approach to going back to school, time management will be crucial to your success.
This will depend on the institution you’re joining. Most schools will place a credit limit on the maximum number of previously-accumulated credits as well as the age of credits that you can apply to the new institution. One thing you’ll definitely need is an open line of communication with the previous college(s) where you earned credits.
Another important piece of transfer credits is exploring whether your workforce experience can be leveraged into college credits with your next institution. More and more colleges and universities allow students to capitalize on their career experience and other skills for course credits.
Passing tests from the College Level Examination Program is another avenue for earning college credits. If you’re currently working for a large company that has a “Corporate U” offering, some of these types of courses are accredited. This is another transfer credit option that could save you money. Be sure to look into the school you’re targeting to learn all about transfer credit options.
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You’ve been studying hard and working towards that 4.0 GPA. But, is that what employers will care about most? While good grades will get you far on your career journey, soft skills can get you even further. Excellent grades don't guarantee spot on performance, but developing soft skills can show potential employers that you have what it takes to adapt, learn, and confidently take on new tasks as they’re given to you. In fact, 31% of teachers think it’s more important to develop soft skills. Here are the skills you need to impress employers.
Companies across the United States are finding it difficult to find applicants with soft skills, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some skills are difficult to teach and work ethic is one of them. Employers will be impressed if you possess this skill right from the start. Having a strong work ethic means you’re organized, timely, and dedicated. But, that’s not all. Work ethic also means you budget your time wisely while being able to work independently or with a team. Either way, you can be trusted to get the job done every time and without excuses.
Employers want candidates with critical thinking and problem-solving skills. That means you need to be creative and curious. Stand out from other applicants by showing you can make informed decisions and analyze situations. No matter the field, you’ll need to think critically and understand problems while providing solutions. You’ll also need to adapt to new challenges and take ownership of problems as they arise. Thinking outside of the box can go a long way. Set yourself apart by approaching challenges in a critical way through analysis, open-mindedness, and creativity.
Communication skills go beyond talking. To be a good communicator you need to be able to effectively articulate your needs and also listen to the needs of others. Employers look for candidates who can communicate their ideas and receive the ideas of their coworkers with an open mind. No matter the career, you’ll need to communicate with coworkers, clients, customers, or vendors. As an employee, you may find yourself discussing problems, giving instructions, and working in teams. Being able to do so effectively can help you advance your career. By bringing forth clear ideas, plans, and processes for how to improve goods or services in your company in an easy to understand manner, you'll show your employer how invested you are in what you do.
Teamwork really does make the dream work, and employers recognize that. That’s why employers look for candidates who work well with others. As an employee you’ll often work with your colleagues on projects and you may not always see eye to eye. Being part of a team doesn’t just mean working together. It also means you give and receive feedback and constructive criticism. Collaboration skills are essential and employers look for candidates who can work independently while also contributing to overall team goals.
A smile goes a long way. While you may not think a positive attitude is the key to succeeding in the workforce, employers are genuinely interested in candidates who are optimistic and are refreshing to be around. As an employee, you should be friendly and eager to work. It’s especially important to remain positive in a less than ideal work environments. Your enthusiasm, patience, and overall energy won’t go unnoticed.
While a high GPA is certainly something to celebrate, remember that employers are looking beyond your grade when considering you for a position at their company. Job candidates who can think outside of the box, understand teamwork, can come up with creative solutions, and possess leadership skills are in demand. Work to strengthen these skills like you would any other lesson you learn at school. With hard work and a dynamite set of soft skills you can succeed in work you’re passionate about!
If you’re ready for your next career adventure or if you’re looking for something new and exciting on your current career path, you don’t have to take the long road. Ashworth is here to help you embark on your journey towards a rewarding career. Here are 10 programs you can start and finish this year.
The need for child care providers is increasing. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 1,298,700 people will be employed as child care providers by 2026. Parents rely on child care providers to help keep their kids safe while also aiding in their intellectual growth. As a child care provider you may work in a daycare center, before- or after-school program, preschool, or home visit. Through our Child Care Provider Career Diploma program, you’ll develop skills to care for children from birth to school age in as little as four months.
Upon completion of the program, you’ll become a member of the National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC).
Learn in-demand skills with our online Medical Billing and Coding Career Certificate. This program will help prepare you for work in doctor’s offices, medical practices, hospitals, and clinics. With a growing aging population that requires medical treatment, medical billing career opportunities are expected to grow by 13% by 2026 according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
You’ll learn the responsibilities of a medical biller/coder, the purpose of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), billing guidelines for medical needs, the life cycle of insurance claims, and the need for accurately coding diagnoses and procedures using industry-standard coding systems.
Commercial and residential buildings require HVAC systems, leaving a need for qualified professionals to install, maintain, and replace those systems. In our online Heating and Air Conditioning Career Diploma program, you’ll learn skills such as how to identify systems and components used for heating and air conditioning, understand standard installation procedures, and troubleshoot and maintain HVAC installations and commercial refrigeration in as little as four months.
This program also offers students the opportunity to complete the EPA 608 Certification Exam.
If you’re interested in financial data, spreadsheets, and statistical reporting then a career in bookkeeping may be for you. Our online Bookkeeping Career Diploma program will help prepare you to meet entry-level bookkeeping needs for businesses of all sizes. You’ll learn the basics of bookkeeping and accounting practices, to explain the concepts of cash and accrual accounting, to prepare payroll transactions, and assist in basic internal controls to prevent theft, embezzlement, and check and credit card fraud.
If you have a furry friend who you trained or if you enjoy helping friends train their new pet then you might want to consider starting our online Dog Obedience Trainer Career Diploma program. As dog owners seek help training their pets, animal trainer careers are expected to grow 20% by 2026, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In this program, you’ll learn the roles and responsibilities of dog trainers, different breed characteristics, problem behaviors, and critical periods of dog behavior in as little as four months.
If you’re detail oriented, organized, and enjoy working with people then you may want to consider a career as an event planner. In our Event Planning Career Diploma program, you’ll learn the role of an event planner, the importance of the interview process and how to determine the budget, size, and style of events, how to plan various events, such as birthdays, religious celebrations, showers, and more, and business considerations involved in running an event planning business.
Enrollment in this program also comes with a one-year student membership to Meeting Professionals International.
If you have a love for art and design and want to turn your passion into a rewarding career then our online Graphic Design Career Diploma program may be right for you. In this program, you’ll learn the elements and principles of design and how to apply them to print and web projects. You’ll also learn to use graphics software from Adobe Creative Cloud®, including Photoshop®, Illustrator®, InDesign®, Muse®, and Edge Animate®.
If you’re looking to enhance your resume and are interested in being in a role that combines leadership and interpersonal skills with sales knowledge, then consider enrolling in our online Retail Management Career Diploma program. Growth in managerial roles in expected to increase with 77,300 new jobs expected for first-line supervisors of retail sales workers by 2026, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In this program, you’ll learn the basics of retail management and merchandising, including organizational structure and key positions, growth and expansion, consumer communication, and merchandise layout and presentation.
You love love and you’re a people person, but most importantly, you enjoy planning parties. Newly engaged couples often seek the help of professionals to plan their big day. By enrolling in our Wedding Planner Career Diploma program you can turn your love for love into a career. You’ll learn the role of a professional wedding planner, wedding customs, rituals, and traditions, planning wedding events, including parties, showers, and ceremonies, and how to run a wedding planning business.
In this program, you’ll also receive a one-year membership for the Association of Bridal Consultants® (ABC).
Whether you’re interested in launching a home-based business or opening your own store, the Small Business Management Career Diploma may be right for you. In as little as four months, you’ll learn how to plan, structure, and run a small business. You’ll cover topics such as business plan development, sales and marketing basics, and the fundamentals of small business accounting and finance.
Ashworth programs are self-paced and available online, allowing you to study when and where you want.
When you enroll you’ll have access to your Student Portal dashboard, which provides instant access to your lessons and support. You’ll also join an active online community of students, staff, and alumni.
Contact Ashworth to start your journey towards finishing your program this year.
An online Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education is designed for aspiring educators who want to develop a career focused on teaching children age 4 and younger. Though you may have stayed at home with a sitter or guardian, or attended a loosely-programmed preschool or play group at that age, it’s now the 2010s and expectations for life pre-K now include structured education by teachers who have earned degrees specifically for this field.
If you have a heart for little kids and patience to boot, consider earning your online Associate Degree and preparing for a job as a preschool teacher! The main goal of preschool is for toddlers to gain language, motor, and social skills while having lots and lots of fun.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for preschool teachers is projected to increase 10% between 2016 and 2026.* That’s a faster-than-average growth projection for all occupations during the same time period. Since the typical requirement for launching a career as a preschool teacher is the completion of an Associate Degree, that leaves plenty of time to get started, graduate, and secure a position in this growing field.
Positions for preschool teachers are available through Head Start programs, private early childhood education centers, churches and faith-based schools, as well as through tutoring, nannying, and at-home childcare services.
As more school systems throughout the U.S. enroll first-generation citizens from non-English-speaking homes, there’s a growing need for trained teachers who can help the youngest of students learn English. Becoming a preschool teacher who works with English Language Learners (ELLs) is a unique way to apply your passion for ECE to a demographic of children who can greatly benefit from your language skills.
If private childcare and teaching is more your style—and you have a sense of adventure—use your ECE degree to become an au pair for a family outside the U.S., or nanny for a foreign family that’s recently moved to the U.S. In both situations, your training will bolster the children’s English-speaking skills and you’ll gain a world of knowledge about another culture.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Preschool Teachers, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm (visited October 31, 2018).