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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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).
Look at you! You got swole and you loved it so much you’ve decided to help others get swole. What’s your next step? Professional certification! You already look the part of a legit personal trainer and that’s excellent for marketing your skills. But it’s a professional certification that really shows your potential clients that you’re qualified to train them. In other words, it gives them permission to trust you right from the start.
Don’t worry, training your brain for certification won’t take as long as training your body into the best physical shape of your life. You also don’t have to go anywhere to get it done; you can learn everything you need to know with online personal training courses at Ashworth College. Our Personal Trainer Career Diploma program can be completed in as few as four months and you can study at your own pace.
The program curriculum aligns with the standards set by the National Council on Strength and Fitness and helps prep you specifically for their Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification exam. Because of the NCSF mission to promote high levels of professional competency, ethics, and safety, their CPTs are considered highly-reputable industry wide.
There are nearly a dozen well-known certification programs available for aspiring personal trainers. They feature a range of costs, time commitments, and reputation levels. Here are some reasons why Ashworth College chose to base our program on the NCSF-CPT exam:
By the way, when you enroll in the Personal Trainer Career Diploma program at Ashworth College, you’ll also have the cost of the NCSF-CPT exam, practice test, study guides, and a 1-year membership covered by tuition! Once you graduate, you’ll be ready to sit for your exam without jumping through hoops. We’ll help you get prepped and get done so you can start pursuing your passion for personal training with confidence.
If your job no longer excites you as much as it once did, you may need to consider changing careers. It seems like an intimidating idea at first, but no matter where you are in your work life, making a career change could be the solution that leads to a happier, more successful you.
Before you can find success tackling something new, you have to understand what you’re leaving behind. Acknowledging that you are not happy with your current job–and figuring out why–is the first step to making a career change. Many people who are unhappy at work fall into one of these categories:
Feelings of discontent are extremely common when it comes to the working life and nearly everyone feels them to some degree at one time or another. But if you’re feeling unhappy at work more often than not, for your own health and well-being, you need to be proactive about making a change on your own terms.
Step one of finding a new path is homing in on what exactly you want to change and why. Write down your "wants" and your "don’t wants” about work. You’re not signing any dotted lines here, you’re just making notes for your own personal reference. Put everything on the table no matter how selfish or outrageous it seems because drawing hard lines between what you want and don’t want makes every step towards a new career much more likely to result in success.
If you need some guidance thinking through your feelings about your work, take this quick quiz to find out what kind of a career change might best suit your needs. You may benefit from a little tweak or you may be inspired to tackle something totally new.
One you figure out what kind of career change will inspire you, you can start taking steps toward it. In some cases, you may just need to ask the boss for a new opportunity or project that will challenge you without taking you too far from your current role. That could require a refresh of your skills, or a few steps into a new subject area. Earning a career-specific certification can be a smart investment here. You can expand your opportunities at work by digging deeper into a creative skill, business skill, trade, or something totally new.
If you’ve determined you need to make a drastic career change, you may need to start a new degree, or finish one you didn’t complete. Don’t worry! Returning to college is not as scary as it seems. The right school can be affordable and flexible to fit into your already busy schedule.
Check out the opportunities here at Ashworth College. We provide online diploma, degree, certificate and career training programs that give you freedom and flexibility to pursue additional education on your time, from your own home, and without the need for Federal student loans. You may find yourself in that dream career a lot faster than you thought possible.