Going to college can be an excellent way to improve your career prospects, whether you do it to get further in your current career or to switch to a completely different industry. If you aren’t fresh out of high school, don’t worry: more and more non-traditional students are now going to college, and there’s more understanding and flexibility for those who are returning to study. So, here are a few factors to take into consideration if you want to further your education.
1. What to study
Most older students will want to study something that is practical and has good job prospects, and will often study in an area where they have experience. They’ll often opt for the most popular college majors, which tend to be in practical, hands-on subjects, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go and study for a liberal arts or humanities degree.
You should think about:
- Which subjects you were good at while in high school
- What knowledge and experience you could bring with you when you start a degree
- What subjects you are passionate about – you may be studying for years, so you need to enjoy what you do
- Which subjects are in demand and will give you good career prospects.
2. Whether you’ll study online or at college
Many non-traditional students now prefer to opt for more flexible programs, and online degrees can be a good choice for them. However, online courses can mean that you miss out on some of the college experience, so a better choice may be to look at part-time courses. Many colleges offer their degrees on a part-time basis, which may explain why more college students now work and study at the same time.
Part-time degrees can be convenient for those with children or other commitments. Furthermore, working while studying means you have a more impressive resume upon graduation and may find it easier to get a job.
3. Which colleges are available to you
Colleges often recognize that non-traditional students have a lot to offer, but you will still need to meet certain criteria to have a chance of acceptance. It’s worth making a long list of colleges you might consider, then looking up, for example, the UMass Amherst average GPA to see what kind of grades they’ll be looking for.
If there’s a particular college you are interested in, but you don’t quite have the requirements, consider contacting their admissions office to see whether they will take things like your work experience into account or what other criteria they might look for.
4. How you’ll fund your education
One advantage of going part-time to study, or doing an online degree, is that you can work to pay for some of your education. However, you may still need to take out student loans, so check your eligibility and find out what your repayments will be before you take them on.
It can be more difficult to go back to college once you’re a little older and have responsibilities, but it’s certainly not impossible. Just make sure you pick your subject carefully and consider all the options available before you enroll.