There are many benefits in pursuing a degree. For some, a degree creates the opportunity to work in a desired field. For others, a degree increases knowledge and skills in a field in which someone is already employed. Still others find that having a degree is a virtual pre-requisite for the modern working world; demonstrating to employers that they have necessary capabilities and commitment to succeed. Finally, others earn a degree for non-career reasons, enjoying the opportunity to learn something new and accomplish something intellectually challenging and rewarding.
People tend to enjoy and succeed in areas in which they have some aptitude and interest. A numbers person may find reading business news interesting in which a business or finance degree may be most enjoyable. If personal satisfaction is derived from helping others, a healthcare or nursing degree may be most appropriate. If a person enjoys working with their hands, building or fixing things, a trade or vocational school may be best to consider. Below are some areas of interest and programs of focus:
The choice of where, or more accurately, how to learn is a major consideration. Some degrees virtually require that a student be physically present to get the most from their education. Degrees in Nursing, Medical Assisting or the Trade schools would fall into this category. For other degrees, the criteria in choosing online versus campus is more related to personal considerations. Is time limited? Unconventional work schedule? If so, the flexibility of an online program where one can study when they have the time may be compelling. On the other hand, people who are concerned with being self-motivated or managing time, classes at a physical campus may be better suited to stay engaged.
It is important to set a timeline of when a potential student will be ready to go back to school. Many times, a student wants to earn a degree but becomes caught up in the rat race of life. Work or personal matters can cause a person to delay work towards the end goal of earning a degree. Setting a timeline of “within 3 months” can typically help a potential student ensure they take the next steps in continuing education. Within this timeframe, it is important to be ready and get all questions answered through research.
An inquiring student may also have questions that they have a hard time answering and choose to wait, procrastinating further. A great thing a potential student can do is to request information directly from a school by asking an education advisor any questions they may have. This way, a potential student can take the next steps to making their degree a reality.
A new student should consider their highest level of education before choosing to apply to a degree program. If an inquiring student does not have a high school diploma, it may be necessary to first obtain a GED before attending a college. Once a student has a GED or high school diploma, they will then be better qualified to begin their studies toward a Certificate, Associate's, or Bachelor's degree program of their choice.
If a student wishes to pursue a Master's or Doctoral degree, it is important that they first obtain a Bachelor's degree. Without a Bachelor's degree, a Master’s or Doctoral program will not accept an applicant. Once a Bachelor's degree is established, schools are willing to consider an applicant for a graduate level degree program.
Not all schools require the GMAT to be accepted to a Master's program, but some do. Many schools are dropping the GMAT because they are finding that working adults would rather directly pursue a Master's degree. Schools that don’t require the GMAT often times consider the applicant "qualified" seeing that they already earned a Bachelor's degree. For schools that have more applicants than spaces available for students, it is more likely that they require a GMAT to limit their applications.
For adults thinking about going to go back to college, financial aid, grants, and scholarships may be available to those who qualify to help subsidize education costs. According to research by CollegeBoard.com, in 2014-15, about 2/3 of students used financial aid to pay for college. Nearly 57% was given in the form of grants while 34% was given as Federal loans. Student loans have rates around 4.8% and can be as low as 1.8%, which is a much better rate than a traditional loan that can be as high as 26%! In some states (like California), additional grants could be subsidized by the state if you are over the age of 24.