After you’ve been out of school and in the workforce for a number of years, it can be hard to imagine yourself as a student again. But lots of adults decide to go back to school and further their education, and it’s more common now than ever. If you’re considering it, ask yourself these six questions first.
What are my education goals?
You should figure out exactly what you’d like to accomplish at school. Are you going to complete a degree? Get a new one? Accomplish some sort of certification? It’s better to have a specific goal in mind than to just start taking random classes. You might end up wasting time with credits that won’t count toward your goal. That’s why you should wait to enroll until you’re sure of what you want.
What are my long-term career goals?
It’s most likely that you’re going back to school in order to further your career, or maybe even start a new one. You need to think about how your education will help you after school. Exactly how do you need to be educated to qualify for your dream job one day? For example, a degree in English might be great if you want to be a teacher, but if you want to be a nonfiction writer, you might want to try a Journalism degree instead.
Do I have enough free time to handle everything?
Think about your daily and weekly routines. If all your time is already scheduled and you’re running on empty, how will you manage going back to school, too? You might have to make some changes if you hope to fit in time for school. And be realistic about how much time you’ll need. You have to factor in traveling to and from class, class time, and lots of extra time for homework and studying.
Can I afford to go back to school?
Be honest about your financial position and what you can afford. Look into student loans, grants, and financial aid to help you out. Also consider how much more money you’ll realistically be making once you graduate and get a new job. Sometimes the pay increase will be enough to justify and pay back large student loans. You might have to pinch pennies now, but ultimately it may be worth it.
Do I have the support of my family and friends?
You don’t necessarily need a large support network to go back to school. But it’s always helpful to have the support and confidence of the people that are close to you. They may be willing to help you with your added burdens, such as pitching in to babysit your kids while you’re in class, or helping you study before a big test.
How will my employer support me?
If you currently have a job, you may want to talk to your boss about your desire to go back to school. They might be willing to help out by adjusting your hours to fit your class schedule. Your company might even help you pay for your education partially or entirely if it will help you in your position
Alexandra Kelly is a school teacher and devoted mother with a passion for writing. She often encourages all her students and associates to instantly proof their work for grammatical infractions using a grammar checker. She is very thankful for her trusty Nissan which allows her to cart her children to school and soccer practices all day long.