I originally went to college directly out of high school. Immediately, I lost all ability to do homework, study, and attend class. Because of my immaturity and laziness, I flunked out of school.
Over the next 11 years I held a variety of jobs, from fast food worker to customer service rep, from bookseller to substitute teacher. It was while substituting that I stumbled across my current job: teacher’s assistant. Over the years I had often wondered how different my life would be if I had gotten my degree. But if I had stayed in college, what would I have majored in? As a teacher’s assistant I finally realized what I want to do with my life. I want to be a school counselor, but in order to do that I have to go back to school.
It seems like the first time through the process wasn’t as complicated as it is now. But there are definite steps one has to take to make a college education possible.
First-Choose a school and apply to it! If you live in an area with a lot of colleges or universities that can be tough, but one thing about it, as an adult with responsibilities, your choices will more than likely be much narrower than they were when you were a kid. Most adults are not going to move out of state to go to school. Once you have chosen a school, fill out the application and send it in as soon as possible.
Next, consider how you want to pay for your education. If the plan is to use financial aid, then you need to fill out a FAFSA. This is the form your school will require before they start helping you find money for expenses. And believe me those expenses aren’t something you want to let catch you by surprise. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake I did when I filled out my FAFSA. Make sure you are completing the form for the right year. I didn’t and it ended up costing me late fees. Research and be prepared for how much aid or savings you are going to need. Consider tuition, books, lab fees, and the essentials you will need (computer, school supplies, parking permits, etc). Usually the school’s catalog will list these costs for you.
Finally, choose classes and a schedule that works for you. The very last thing you want is to overload yourself and burnout. You think that missing degree haunts you now, just imagine how bad it would be if you missed it the second time around. You know you and what you can and cannot handle. Choose your classes thoughtfully, taking into consideration how difficult a course may be for you (you don’t want to take all your hardest courses in the same semester), what days and times the classes fall on (you don’t want to miss all of your kid’s Tuesday night soccer games because you scheduled poorly), and how much time you are allowing yourself to study. It’s okay to be a part time student, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Going back to school can be a very daunting thing. But when you get to the age that you know what you want to do with your life, if that dream requires going back to school don’t let fear hold you back. If you do, you have no one else to blame your regrets on.