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Earn Your Degree: It CAN be Done

Updated on May 16, 2015

Getting In

Choosing a college is not easy. Only consider accredited colleges and universities and check their accreditation. After narrowing your search, find out how many students are employed in their chosen field within six months after graduation. Schools with good statistics will proudly display this information on their website or advertisements. Get opinions from other students and ratings on the school through the internet. If you don't know how to do this, now is a good time to practice, because you will need to learn how to search the internet if you decide to return to school.

Even if you weren't the greatest student in high school, or even dropped out, you can still get a good college education. There are many good, accredited colleges and universities that offer open enrollment and accept a GED. Try your community college, where you can earn an Associates degree that will transfer to a four year university, if you want to earn a Bachelor's degree. Many accredited, affordable online universities accept GEDs, including University of Phoenix, American Public University, and Columbia Southern University. None of these schools require entrance exams. Simply apply, make financial arrangements, and start.

Don't let finances keep you from obtaining your degree.


Paying for School

Some really good colleges offer low tuition rates. Your local community college should be one of your least expensive choices, offering in-state tuition rates. Some good accredited universities are affordable, like University of Phoenix. Many online accredited universities have comparably low tuition rates, as well as open enrollment, such as Western Governors University and American InterContinental University.

If you can really not afford to go to school, and you have no drug felonies, outstanding student loans, and if male, you registered for selective service, you will probably qualify for federal grants and student loans. Grants, such as the FAFSA, do not need to be repaid. Student loans must be repaid beginning six months after you graduate. Compare interest rates and repayment terms. If you are only earning minimum wage now, and can earn a degree and make twice or three times as much money, would you be willing to pay back what you borrowed at $75.00 to $100.00 a month? Most people would.

Scholarships can help, but are not easy to obtain. Begin at the website of your school of choice and find out what school scholarships are available. You can also try scholarship sites, such as Fastweb, for help finding a school and/or scholarships. Beware of sites that ask for your phone number. You will be deluged with calls from recruiters.

You can find the time.


Finding the Time

Going to college no longer insinuates sitting in a class for the same amount of time certain days of the week. Online education has made returning to school possible for people who have jobs, families, and/or other obligations. Most online colleges use e-books, and class discussions are done online. Instructors give the students links to labs, lectures, and videos. Contact between students and instructors can be done through the classroom or email. Online colleges offer online libraries for students. Many traditional colleges offer in-classroom and online courses.

Although online courses are just as time consuming as traditional college courses (minus the commute), studying online offers the flexibility of studying at times that are available to you. You may find yourself reading while waiting in the doctors office or listening to lectures on your commute, but, where this a genuine will, there's a way to be found. If the traditional classroom is preferred, many colleges offer evening and even weekend classes. With a little creativity and flexibility, time constraints will fail at keeping a person who really wants to earn a degree from doing so.

To find out if online college is for you, take a free class at Test Drive College. But, beware. A few schools accept credits from this program, but they are expensive and may not be a college you choose. Expect to have to retake any class you choose at Test Drive College if and when you do enroll in college, but it's still a great opportunity to find out if online classes are for you.

Other Obligations

Many people have obligations, families, jobs, and such, that consume time and energy. Many colleges and universities make allowances for nontraditional students, offering credits for exams, life experience, etc. Attending only part-time may also be an option. Or cutting your work hours. If you choose a less expensive school, and have the balance of loans and grants sent to you, that money can be used to help pay your bills. For example, a student attending Columbia Southern University full-time on student aid who has the balance of grants and loans sent to her, receives about $12,000 a year to help with bills. Of course, it will take her years to pay it back, at $75.00 a month, but the payments won't hurt her with the income she will have after obtaining her degree. Remember to always borrow responsibly, though.

It's important to develop a support system if you choose to return to school. Assess your needs and find ways to fulfill them. Who can watch the children while you are in class? Who can help with chores? Shopping? Transportation? Single mothers who live near each other and attend school may exchange child care for extra study time. Family members and friends can help with children. Spouses and older children can help with chores. Roommates can help with bills. Be creative. Don't let anything keep you from fulfilling your dreams.

In Conclusion.....

Choosing to return to school to earn your degree is an important decision. Don't take it lightly. Do plenty of research and give classes a try. A few online schools occasionally offer no obligation free class time or try Test Drive College if you are interested in online classes or ask if you can sit in a class at your local college or trade school. Financing is available at most colleges for students who qualify. Develop your support system and don't let anything keep you from that dream job you want.


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