My school journey started nearly two years ago after finally making the decision to become a college student while juggling motherhood and working full-time as a Legal Administrative Assistant. Before deciding to go to college, I had to really sit down and figure out exactly what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it. The first step for me was finding a major and getting into a school, which is only the basics of getting started on your back to school journey, but the most important. I want to share with you some tips for going back to school or enrolling for the first time as a college student.
Why do you want to go to school?
It is important to know why you want to go to back to college. Is it because you want more out of your career? Do you want to earn your degree to have a better opportunity? More money? Are you just interested in experiencing the college life that you may have missed out on when you where younger? Figure out why you want to go back and what you want out of it. Are you going to apply your degree or do you just want it to sit on your wall to remind yourself of the great accomplishment you achieved. Either way, it is your choice and no reason to go back to school is a bad reason.
Write it down
Before you go searching for schools it is important to figure out what exactly it is that you want to do. Get a pen and paper and write down your skills, interest, talents, and hobbies. Which are you most passionate about? Which can you realistically see yourself making a career out of? Can you see yourself doing this for a lifetime while maintaining your own happiness? How many years of schooling do you need to invest to get into your desired career path? Give yourself time to think about these things before you go enrolling yourself to a degree that just sounds good to you. Understand how crucial it is for you to take this experience serious because the older you are, the less time you have to waste.
Find a Major
After you have narrowed down exactly what you want to do, now it is time to look for a major that is related to what you want to study. Are you currently making your own body soap, for example? You may want to look into taking up a business class and learn how to invest, create, and manage your own business of body soaps. Be sure to do all of your research!
Look for a school
Now that you know what you want to go to school for, it’s time to look for a school. The smart thing to do is to look for a school that is within your area or close to where you work, unless you are looking to move out of state. If you are into fashion, for example, and you live in NYC, Google search fashion/design schools in NYC. Take a look at the schools website, look up reviews, do your research, because where you spend your time and your money should be important. Take things into consideration like the requirements. Some schools ask for a portfolio depending on your desired major. Most schools require an entry exam. Be sure to look up the curriculum for your major. Take a look at the classes you have to take in order to complete your degree. Remember that every school is different so take your time when making this choice.
Paying for School
You’ve thought long and hard on why you want to go back to school, chose a major, and you have even found a school that is not to far from home or work. Great! Now, a very important step you must follow through with is how you are going to pay for college. First, if you have saved up enough money for school, that’s wonderful but I highly recommend seeking assistance through Financial Aid. Whether you think you qualify for financial aid or not, make it your business to at least apply. Look into scholarship opportunities as well. I entered a scholarship contest founded by my current college and I ended up being selected. Yes, scholarships are real and you can get one. I suggest going to your schools website and looking at the scholarship recommendations on there. You can also meet with a scholarship advisor at your desired school as well. Before you dig in your pockets or someone else’s, seek out ALL of your options. You never know what you will qualify for.
Choosing Classes/ Making a schedule
And finally, now you want to start making your schedule and choosing your classes, and choose them wisely. For me, full time is 12 credits, which is usually equivalent to 4 classes. This may be different depending on what class you need to take. I always try to take classes every other day and at least one online class if it is available. The important thing to do is to be sure that when making your schedule it does not interrupt with your other classes. Understand that a heavy workload that you may not be able to handle can have the possibility of hurting your performance as a student. Give yourself a break especially if you have other responsibilities at work and at home. Consider your job schedule, your home life, and your sanity.
Do you have any tips you would like to add to getting started with your college journey? Please share with us!