Majors, Money & Mindset
Debunking the Myths About Returning to College as an Adult
With the end of summer quickly approaching, autumn will soon be upon us and bring with it backpacks, school buses, and football games. As your children prepare to return to school, does a small part of you wonder what it would be like if you went back to college after all these years? Would you have to start all over again? Surely, your credits would be too old, and you may not even want to study the same major that you did when you first graduated from high school!
The good news is that many of the scenarios that you have played out in your mind as you have contemplated this idea may, in fact, be just myths. After all, when did you last talk to someone about what would be involved? As colleges and universities compete for fewer students, and the news media reports on the mounting national student debt crisis, the competition is heating up for that coveted seat count.
Here we will focus on debunking 10 common myths that may convince you to get a little closer to your nearest college campus to start classes this fall semester.
Myth #1 - My credits are too old to use.
While this may be true with some institutions, it is not the case with every college. Many accept them up to ten years old, and some have no expiration date. If they have expired, you can always inquire about using your prior knowledge to test out of courses instead of repeating them.
Myth #2 - If I change majors, I would have to start all over again.
In most cases, the general education courses transfer from program-to-program. It typically is only the group of major-specific, or core courses, that may not transfer. However, there may be room to utilize those courses as electives or even use them to complete the requirements for a minor.
Myth #3 – I would be in the classroom with students that are young enough to be my children.
While you will have some students right out of high school in your classes, if you attend college in the evenings, more than likely, you will be in a classroom with working adults just like you. In fact, the younger and more inexperienced students in the class will appreciate your insight on theories that they have not yet encountered in real-life.
Myth #4 – I can’t afford it.
As a returning adult, you won’t have as many scholarships available to you as you did when you graduated from high school. However, now you may have an employer that will be willing to pay as part of your professional development. Check with your HR office. There may also be other opportunities for funding, such as tuition assistance or VA benefits from military service, a qualified 529 Plan, or even low-interest student loans. A college financial aid officer can help you to navigate through your options.
Myth #5 – I wouldn’t have time to study.
As working adults, and in many cases, working parents, your study opportunities are there but in a different form than if you were in a freshman dorm. Think of the number of hours spent commuting to work or traveling for work, where you are not in the driver’s seat. As parents, think of the countless hours that you spend carpooling your children to activities, and then waiting for them until they are finished and ready to go home. This is an often overlooked opportunity to use for homework.
Myth #6 – I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the class.
Many colleges and universities supply subject-specific tutors as part of their student support services, sometimes at no charge. Additionally, you can hire tutors online through websites such as SmartThinking and tutor.com. Many college courses are also now offered online, so that you have the flexibility to work around your busy schedule.
Myth #7 – My grades were horrible when I attended college right out of high school.
While those courses will probably need to be repeated, nowadays many institutions of higher learning also recognize and reward the value of skills gained in the workplace and award credit for them, thereby eliminating the need for some of those low-grade courses to be repeated.
Myth #8 – My family will laugh at me.
The truth is that you become a role model for your children by showing them the value of completing their education. Besides, you will be the last one laughing – all the way to the bank with the raise that you will hopefully earn from your employer after completing your degree!
Myth #9 – I won’t know anyone there.
You may not know anyone there, but just think of the opportunity that presents to network and get to know like-minded individuals, as well as influential instructors. What better way to find new job opportunities than through meeting new people?
Myth #10 – It wouldn’t help me in my career now anyway.
Maybe it wouldn’t help you in your current job – but what if you were no longer there? Knowledge is power. You may decide to leave for a better job or a job that better fulfills your purpose and passion in life. You will be empowering yourself to gain the control to decide what career will make you the happiest.
With back-to-school shopping in full swing and the anticipation of a new year of experiences awaiting your youngsters, why not buy an extra backpack of supplies for yourself? Then head over to your nearest college advising center to get answers to your questions and get registered. Once you go to class, you may just be amazed at how much more interesting it is when you are there to learn!