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.
Want to read more stories like this?
If you’ve taken any prescription medications, you’ve no doubt interacted with a pharmacy technician. These professionals are most recognizable as the folks at your local drug store – handing you a prescription bag and ringing up your purchase on the cash register.
Retail pharmacies aren’t the only places pharm techs work, though. Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of settings, from hospitals to mail-order prescription facilities. And their job tasks can vary greatly depending on where they work.
About half of all pharm techs work in drug stores, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In a retail environment, pharmacy technicians work under the direction of the registered pharmacist to handle a number of important tasks, including:
Most pharmacy technicians employed in a retail setting work full time, sometimes in shifts that include nights and weekends. The median pharmacy technician salary in retail drug stores is about $30,000 per year, and demand for pharm techs is expected to grow rapidly as the Baby Boomer population continues to age.
Some pharm techs don’t want to interact with the public as much as required in a drug store setting. If that sounds like you, then you may be interested to know that hospitals employ many pharmacy technicians “behind the scenes” to prepare medications for patients. Like their retail peers, hospital-based pharm techs also work under the supervision of a registered pharmacist, but they may perform more complex tasks, including:
Working in a hospital is tops for pharmacy technician pay: the median salary for these professionals comes in at nearly $37,000 per year.
Many people receive their medications through the mail these days, and while it’s true that big machines count and package those pills, the prescriptions still must be processed by someone who has passed a pharmacy technician exam.
In a mail-order pharmacy, a pharm tech might:
Pharmacy technician hourly pay in a mail-order facility might run as high as $15.50, for a median annual salary of about $31,000.
Pharm techs work in other settings, too, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, where they may package and dispense medications to patients.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to become a pharmacy technician, our Admission Advisors can put you on the path to enter this this fast-growing field. Learn more about the online pharmacy technician program at Ashworth College. Call 1-800-957-5412 or request free information today!
In our GO AFTER IT blog series, you'll meet fellow students and grads who committed themselves to chasing their dreams and proving it pays to GO AHEAD toward better opportunities -- no matter the obstacles to be overcome.
When Dan Brennanhusen* attained his role as the new director of safety and security for a major school district, his qualifications included nearly two decades of law enforcement and corporate security experience. He had also earned his Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Ashworth College and is a strong believer in the power of education to achieve success.
“I believe higher education is a leveraging tool to seek higher positions,” says Brennanhusen, “and with higher positions you typically are better compensated.”
While Brennanhusen was rewarded with better compensation, he feels that his Ashworth College program provided him with something much more valuable than the promise of higher pay. Even after working as a professional in law enforcement for so many years, he learned new concepts and techniques from the books and lessons in the Master of Criminal Justice Degree Program. He also discovered the practicality of his education, since he is using what he learned every day in his new job.
“I found the program to be contemporary and directly applicable to my profession. The core principles and components of my studies positively impact my career daily,” he says.
The quality of the program was unquestionably relevant to Brennanhusen’s career, but there were other benefits of an Ashworth College education that drew him into attending in the first place.
“Because I had a really busy work and family life, including two kids, I had to find a flexible program. I had been promoted to new assignments and divisions so life was as busy as it could possibly be. Ashworth College offered the accreditation and flexibility I needed to attain my objectives. The cost was also a plus.”
One might ask why a successful criminal justice professional who was already promoted would want to continue their education. According to Brennanhusen, the answer was twofold: career advancement and personal growth. At the time, he was a police sergeant and wanted to become a member of his department’s executive leadership team by working his way up to chief. After being promoted to commander, Brennanhusen realized that he would need a master’s degree to be considered for the next step up. And he knew that a higher-level degree would help him in his role for future promotions.
Says Brennanhusen, “Hiring someone always comes with some risks. I view degrees and higher education as an important piece of the puzzle. Having ‘missing pieces’ may cause a potential employer to find someone who has a more complete puzzle.”
As Brennanhusen completed his educational “puzzle,” he took his time. Aside from his competing priorities of earning a living and caring for a busy family, he says he didn’t want to merely pass assignments – he wanted to get good grades, do well and truly learn. He even paused his studies for a while so he could regroup and refocus.
Congratulations to Brennanhusen on completing his master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and the opportunities it has afforded him. If you’re interested in this field, or other fields of study, we recommend you contact an Admissions Advisor at 1-800-957-5412 who will be happy to answer any and all questions you may have.
* At the request of the student in the interest of job privacy and security, a pseudonym is being used; otherwise, all quotes and information in this blog are actual and verifiable.
What’s your dream career? Working in the booming healthcare field? Criminal justice? Owning your own business?
All too often, people’s dreams get derailed because they think they can’t get the education they need to turn their vision into reality. The Ashworth College graduates in these videos will tell you otherwise. Hear their inspiring stories, and then talk to an admissions advisor today so you can stop dreaming and start pursuing your ideal career!
Wouldn’t you love to star in your own graduation video, dressed in a gown and mortarboard like these students? We would certainly love to see you walk the stage at our live commencement event to receive the certificate, diploma, or degree you earned at Ashworth College.
Learn more about the many flexible, afforedable programs available to help you start turning your dream career into a reality: Talk to an admissions advisor today!