Please refer back to Installment #1for the legal mumble jumble…
In Installment #4, I touched on the topic of education. Some of us would prefer to never again open a textbook or walk into a classroom, but we are now in a world where the difference between having that “piece of paper” or not, can and does make the difference between getting our dream job…or not.
Don’t let it boil down to that.
About five years ago, after making it through 19 years of climbing the ladder without that piece of paper, I decided to quit talking about it and just “get-er-done”. The time I spent pondering if I’d go back to school, I could have had multiple degrees.
At the time I started college the second time around, starting fresh with no transfers; my twins were entering the 9th grade and my little guy, the 2nd grade. Not the calmest time in our family life, but I decided to do it. There is no “perfect” time to do anything, but if it’s worth it, you’ll make do. Somehow, some way, you’ll find a way to accomplish whatever it is you want, IF you’re dedicated enough.
So, I began the research. The first thing you need to do when you make the wonderful decision to better yourself educationally is to find the right school for you!
If you are at a point in your life where classroom involvement is not out of the question, and there is a local college or university you’d like to attend, then you’re already ahead of the ballgame. Go to the student center, talk to a counselor, talk to people who are already students at that school and make sure it is the college that best fits your situation.
I was looking for a school that could fit into my busy schedule and as affordable as possible. I have a (more
than) full time job and a (more than) full time family. I needed classes that I could do at midnight and in my pajamas. I also need structure. I heard of the schools that didn’t require any submitted assignments until the last week of class. I can’t do that. I know enough about myself to say without structure, I will find other, more important priorities, and will find myself doing eight weeks of assignments in one weekend. NOT FUN! And what if something happened that weekend, I would fail??
FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.
Especially not when I was going to be paying for these classes out of my own pocket! That’s another thing people discover when attending college later in life. When you have to shovel out the money, the goal is even more attractive.
I did internet searches for on-line schools. I checked to see if these schools were accredited. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE….IF THE SCHOOL IS NOT ACCREDITED OR IS “UNDER REVIEW” TO LOSE THEIR ACCREDITATION, DO NOT…I REPEAT…DO NOT ENTER THIS SCHOOL!! The worst thing for you to do is go to school for four years only to discover your degree is worthless when it comes to assisting your career.
If you don’t have a local school, or your schedule is too busy to accommodate classroom visits every week, check out these websites to find the online college for you:
Once you have a list of your top 5 potential colleges, visit their websites and root around to see what they are promoting, discussing, and highlighting. Note of caution: If you are requested to fill out a form or provide your phone number, believe you me…they will call you. I felt like a rock star when I started doing this, my phone was ringing off the hook. I literally filled out my phone number for a college and before I even began searching their website my phone rang. I of course laughed and looked at caller ID thinking…that couldn’t be…could it? Well, it was!
They have operators standing by waiting for that phone number to come across as an “interested in further information” person. Then it’s GAME ON! They will woo you, compliment you, and make you feel real special, because it boils down to – you want a degree and they want your money. You’ve come this far, so they know you’re seriously thinking about it, so why let your dollars go somewhere else when they can grab you up and convince you they care.
Just tell them you are interested, but if you don’t want to commit right then, ask them to call you back in a week. If they badger you, tell them they are ruining the chances of winning the “Who am I going to pick for College” competition. And they should back off.
Go back to visiting the websites at your leisure. You want to look at all sides of every possibility before you commit. Once you’re in, you’ll have years with these people, so make sure it’s what YOU want.
Now, for the financial part…if you qualify for a grant, that’s absolutely wonderful! If you’re among the other 98% (exaggerated) of people, you should find as many scholarships as you can to offset the costs. And then, after all that and you find out how much you have to pay out of pocket, pay it if you can, but if not…there’s nothing wrong with a student loan. Some people never want a student loan, well I can definitely understand that and respect it, however if I waited until the day I could afford to pay for school as I went, I’d be the oldest living freshman at 101 years old.
Student loans are there to help you attend school when you want to attend, but don’t quite have the money or scholarships to pay the full amount. You will be charged interest and six months after leaving school or graduating is when you will be expected to start paying the loan back. I advise you start paying back a whole lot earlier than that, but will get to that in my financial installment later on in this series.
Back to grants and scholarships…here are some helpful websites:
I’m not recommending any school over another, or any scholarship website over the others, this is up to you. And there are so many. These can help you for in person attendance and online colleges. And there are scholarships for all sorts of reasons…left handed? At least 1/16th Cherokee Indian? At least ¼ Alaskan? One blue eye and one hazel eye? You’d be amazed at the scholarships out there. Also, if you have selected the school you’d like to attend, check their websites for scholarship opportunities. There usually are several.
You don’t have to have a reason for getting a degree. I honestly don’t need one in my career, but knew I wanted one. It eluded me for far too long and I was pretty tired of people saying, “And you don’t have a degree?” as if that made me an inferior human. A degree doesn’t guarantee someone knows more than others, but it does provide a leg up when being reviewed for a promotion.
I just took on the demeanor, I’d rather get it now while I don’t need it than to get to the point where I do need it and don’t have it.
Don’t let those “paper holders” beat you out for the career of your dreams.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any specific questions and I’ll be happy to help if I can.