Back To School

By Lauren Baumbauer

May 1, 2009 4 min read

BACK TO SCHOOL

Adults benefit from going into the classroom again

Lauren Baumbauer

Creators News Syndicate

Are you interested in new opportunities, skills, personal growth and networking? Believe it or not, returning to the classroom may be the right path to follow to achieve these goals, with many people taking that step.

"More adults are returning to school and getting post baccalaureate degrees than ever before," said Donald Asher, career and education speaker and author of "Graduate Admissions Essays: Write Your Way into the Graduate School of Your Choice" ($20, Ten Speed Press) and "Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn't and Why: 10 Things You'd Better Do If You Want to Get Ahead" ($15, Ten Speed Press).

Even though traditional students are no longer the norm, returning to the books as an adult may seem daunting -- especially if money is tight or stress is high. But going back is more than just reliving the good times of your school days. It's a great opportunity to prepare for a new career or to enhance a current trade. It also provides an opportunity to be a more appealing candidate for jobs or raises.

"Eighteen months spent getting a degree looks better to prospective employers than having a huge unemployment gap," said Asher.

According to the University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education program, teachers enjoy the benefit of adult students in their classes. They bring in real world experiences, make connections and contribute unique insights, ideas and questions. An adult returning to school gains a lot personally by being such an asset.

No matter how much you want to get back into the classroom, Asher doesn't advise quitting a job to go to college if it's avoidable. "Getting a bachelor's won't refocus your career if you stop working. If you're bored of work or need a career change, then go part-time."

Going to school part-time also offers plenty of opportunities to learn with a busy schedule. This can be done online, with a weekend MBA program or even a distance learning Ph.D. program.

Roxanne Ravenel, a job search coach from Elyria, Ohio who hosts "The Savvy Jobseeker" podcast on BlogTalkRadio, said there are alternatives to traditional schooling to get the ball rolling. "Try to learn through volunteering, tutoring programs through local libraries, continuing education courses through community colleges, interning or by taking professional certification courses."

Ravenel advised to "search within your field and see what programs are available." Trying career-related programs can also minimize a student's time in school if they obtain credits from professional certifications.

There are some factors to consider before jumping into academic waters. If major life changes are happening and could affect studying or the time needed to get a credential or finish a class, then it may be best to put your degree on hold.

"I had a friend who got bounced out of a Ph.D. program," Asher said. "He was raising three kids and had too much to do. If you live in chaos, it isn't the best moment for school."

Dedication is also important for making the grade. Some people aren't able to handle the work needed to succeed. Others may have a hard time finding success with certain types of programs. "For example, a lot of online programs have a low completion rate," said Asher.

Another crucial area for consideration is school costs and budgeting. "Don't borrow a ton of money to do this," Asher said. Many employers will pay for an employee's education in return for employment. Also, finding scholarships or taking classes part-time can cut costs.

If you want to go for it, don't be afraid. Test the waters and take a few courses. It may be exactly the right course of action in order to graduate to the next stage in life.

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