Making the Decision: What to Consider
Jobs remain very competitive, companies continue to shut down their operations and the salaries involved in most careers require a two-earner household to raise families or reach the so-called American Dream. Some vocational rehabilitation specialists recommend changing careers and, if necessary, returning to a college or university to earn the necessary degree to do so. Yet the decision is often not that easily made by prospective adult students.
College and university classes are expensive and few adults can afford to quit their current jobs to attend college classes full-time. Adult students—as opposed to older adolescents with parents to foot the bill—must plan on what funds will be used to pay for tuition, books and other expenses before beginning their studies. If loans are involved, it's a good idea to sit down with a financial aid analyst at the school or a loan officer at your bank to determine exactly how much money you'll need to borrow, when you'll be required to begin the repayment process, how much the loan repayment will cost each month and if this new expense will outweigh the higher income you anticipate with your new career. Apply for scholarships and financial aid as early as possible.
Finally, if a partner and children are part of the household, their cooperation will be required for you to be a successful adult student. College classes paired with a job leaves little time for leisure; taking on such a challenge likely means your partner and children will need to be willing to take on more responsibilities during the time you'll be attending school.
Returning to School: Making it Work
Once you've chosen a career with a positive job outlook and a projected income that exceeds your current earnings, you'll need to find a school nearby that offers a degree in the program. (As most adult students' available time to attend school is limited, it's often recommended that they first earn an associate degree in their chosen field and return to work with plans to study part-time for a bachelor's degree). Medical assistant training programs, for example, are ideal for many adults who seek a well-paid career with significant job growth anticipated over the next decade in the field. Completion of the program provides the graduate a variety of positions from which to choose as well as an associate degree in the field. With degree in hand, a medical assistant can enter the field to gain experience, and then go on to study almost any subject—nursing, radiological technician or nursing—on a part-time basis.
Tips for Success
The keys to success as an adult student are threefold: hard work, frugality and time management skills. Even as you have less time to fix a family dinner, the old standby of ordering pizza for delivery might be prohibited due to your reduced income. These are situations in which your family's cooperation and assistance are indispensable. Time management skills might require that you tape lectures to listen to during times when you can't read, cook in large batches once a week for the next six dinners or enlist the help of a classmate to study.
Seek Advice From Graduates
Finally, seek advice from graduates who've successfully graduated and gone on to enter new careers. They'll be happy to share what worked and what didn't during their endeavors. Good luck and study hard!
Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education, specifically medical assistant training programs. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.