As a young adult, I completed my associate degree and transferred to a four-year university. I enjoyed college and all its opportunities. Two classes prior to graduation I was offered my “dream job.” As I mulled over what to do, the question that run through my mind was: Why should I finish my degree? It’s a good question that I didn’t know the answer to until life pointed it out to me.
Do you want a sense of accomplishment? Are you trying to set a good example for your children? Has your career hit a dead-end? Maybe you just want to go back to college to get your degree. The motivations may be different for everyone, but many questions asked by adults returning to college are the same.
The first step to figuring out how to pay for school is understanding the cost. A Net Price Calculator is a handy tool to understand the costs associated with school.
After reviewing the cost of school apply for federal financial aid by completing the FASFA. Financial aid is available for adults. You will never know what financial aid you will qualify for, i.e. grants and loans, unless you apply.
Review your employer’s education benefits. Check to see if they offer a tuition remission program or if they have a partnership with a university that provides benefits like scholarships. If your company does not currently offer these benefits, consider contacting your human resources department and inquire about creating a partnership.
Since college is an investment in time and money you want to be sure you are successful. It may have been years since you’ve written a paper. You may not have an affinity for math. Despite these worries, you can earn your degree. You’re older and wiser now. Instead of trying to take the world on by yourself look into tips and use the resources available to help.
Your number one ally might be an academic advisor. Advisors help students understand the catalog (the classes that are required to earn your degree) and help you build a game plan (education plan). This plan lays out what classes you will take and when. Colleges with academic advisors are student-centric and know that advisors will listen to your strengths, your challenges and help you pave a path to academic success.
Many colleges offer tutoring and education support. Look into free programs such as a tutoring center or online writing and math community.
Do you have trouble concentrating? Suffer from PTSD? Colleges are federally mandated to provide educational resources to students living with disabilities including ADHD, dyslexia, hearing loss and more. Resources including hearing impairment services, mobility assistance, speech recognition technology and more, are available to you at a center for disability services or office of accessible education.
As a busy adult juggling family responsibilities and work, carving out time for yourself can be hard. That’s why finding a college that caters to adult learners is important. Consider a school that offers local evening classes blended with online components. Completely online programs also provide flexibility to learn-on-the-go. Competency-based education is self-paced. Students earn digital badges that show their mastery of specific skills. Work can be done days, nights or weekends.
More opportunities to earn more
Education is a valuable tool when looking to expand your career options. Not only does it make your resume look more marketable but it is projected that 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree.  On the average, college graduates also make more money, about $17,500 more per year. In addition, the unemployment rate is lower among adults over 25 with a four-year degree. 
I left school for the “dream job” in television. I learned the entertainment industry wasn’t very glamorous. I was on-call evenings, weekends and holidays. I commuted in hours of traffic. My career lacked stability. I was constantly having to work my connections for the next gig. I was under-appreciated and overworked.
I left the high stress of television production for a local job in customer service. I worked for years honing my soft skills and growing with a team. I piloted programs and won awards but each time I applied for a promotion, I was overlooked. After four years of trying to move up, I was told I wasn’t considered for a position because my bachelor’s degree wasn’t complete. At age 35, I was a first-time mom with a stagnate career and no bachelor’s degree. I could not afford childcare but also could not afford to live on one income. I needed to finish my degree to help support my family. And that’s exactly what I did.