People with college degrees earn more than people who do not have them. In 2012, the Pew Institute released a report showing the median salary for college graduates was $45,000 per year compared with people who had attended some college (they make an average of $30,000 per year) and those with only a high school degree (they make about $28,000). Most college graduates feel their bachelors degree was worth it (83%). It has been estimated that not going to college costs workers approximately a half a million dollars in lost wages. Students who get a bachelors degree in English start their careers with a salary of about $36,500 which increases to $63,500 during their career.
Going back to school may seem like a daunting task. Adult education programs have sprung up around the country as people are seeing the value in getting a bachelor degree. There is help available for adult education.
Tips for going back to school:
- Financial aid: Money is an issue for every student going back to get an undergraduate degree. College is expensive. Luckily, financial help is available for adult education, it is not just for students going from high school directly to college. Talk to the financial aid office at the school you wish to attend. They can steer you in the right direction for loans and grants. There are special programs for veterans, women and others.
- Pick your schedule carefully. Going back to school as an adult presents a lot of challenges that younger students do not have to deal with. Balancing a job, school and a family is a lot of work. You will have to be super organized to juggle all of the different tasks. There may be resources at your school for adult education students. Take advantage of them. Often the subject matter you are studying will be completely different from what you do at work and that takes a lot of energy to make that mental transition.
- Be prepared for test and school anxiety. This is a stressful thing, to manage work and school and then you have an exam. You may have studied incredibly hard and know the material, that will not make the stress any less, well, stressful. Give yourself a break and remember, it is normal to feel this way. You are neither the first nor last. Just ready yourself for it and trust yourself.
- Do not scrimp on sleep. You have work. You have school. You have a family. Where can you get an extra five minutes? You will be tempted to take that from your sleep time but resist that urge. It will be hard to resist it but you have to because you will be more productive if you are rested and you will be less stressed as well. Sleep is really your friend.
- Get by with a little help from your friends. Adult eduction programs or any program that gets people back to school is still a hard and stressful process. Non-traditional students face a bevy of problems that their traditional counterparts do not. You do not have to do this alone, take advantage of support networks. It will make a huge difference.
Going back to school can be extremely rewarding but that does not mean it is not stressful and difficult. Just do your best and it will all work out.