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A College Degree Guide to Going Back to School.

Updated on December 11, 2017
Finally! I Got My Associates Degree!
Finally! I Got My Associates Degree!

Back To School For The First Time

I have always heard adults stress the importance of an education beyond high school. How being educated opens a wide variety of doors and opportunities that having a regular job just does not provide. How having a stable career and being a valued asset is important. As it also provides job security and the knowledge that you will be able to live a comfortable lifestyle; also providing for yourself and your family. But these same adults seem hesitant to attend school themselves as they always have a wide variety of excuses ranging from being to old to attend school to not remembering how to do fractions. There seems to be a shameful and somewhat taboo stigma for some people to enroll in college later in life. Although college itself has changed dramatically with the introduction of the computer, the Internet, and how information can be obtained; those with a strong desire to learn and those with a strong desire to teach will always remain.

Some people just need to know what steps to take to get the ball rolling and take that first step into life as a college student. Some of you may have did things backwards by getting married and having kids early on, and so on and that is fine. Whatever your delay was, never assume that you can not do what you and others are doing and have done everyday of their lives; which is learn. You just need the drive and the ambition. Also a few key pieces of information to get you started, so here you go!

Get Informed! Information, Information, Information!

This is by far the most important key, so it has to come first. From community colleges to universities, knowing exactly what you want to major in gives you a heads up, because you can easily map out and follow a degree plan. From basic college level associates degree courses, to a bachelors degree in whatever field you choose, planning out a course strategy is important to do, especially if you have kids, a full-time job, or other obligations outside of school. Being able to schedule classes and study times in and around your everyday life is important.

Talk with a college counselor at the Financial Aid office of the college to which you want to apply about all your financial aid options. Some colleges have financial aid funding reserved specifically for its own students. Private or independent colleges usually have more money than public or state universities can provide.

Look into what scholarships and financial aid programs may be available to you. There are many scholarship programs offered to single mothers, minority and ethnic groups and some even that are specific for career fields you may be pursuing. To help you plan your college costs and to find scholarships and grants, the best and most reliable resource is College Board, who also administers the SAT. Register with them at http://www.collegeboard.org and when you find grants or scholarships for which you may be eligible, be sure to follow the application rules exactly. Because if you do not seek out and apply to most of these programs, you will never know they exist and may find yourself paying out of pocket, when you could have saved yourself a ton of money.

Why Network, When You Can Study!
Why Network, When You Can Study!

Mental Preparation 101

Seeing as how your old Sat or Act scores are useless and may expire between 2 and 5 years depending on the college you plan to attend, you will have to take the Accuplacer entrance exam. The Accuplacer is a test you take before starting college classes. It determines what level of math, English, reading, and writing you are at, as to know what classes to place you in, or if you need prerequisites (pre-college) courses. Score low on any area and you may wind up taking a remedial course. Remedial courses can be extraordinarily useful or extraordinarily useless, depending on how many you need to take. Remedial courses do not count towards your degree at all. The only thing they do is prepare you for the one course that is required for your major.

Some people believe that colleges set up placement tests so they can make more money and have you waste valuable semester hours, which is why I always recommend individuals study for the entrance exam. Buying a college test preparation book like Cracking the SAT, 2012 Edition (College Test Preparation) by Princeton Review or any other study guide to use as a preparation tool is a good idea. Taking remedial courses during your very first semester of college, if it improves your abilities, is a positive. A remedial course in mathematics will review the foundations of basic mathematics, algebra and geometry. Taking a remedial math class is way better than trying to take the regular college-level course and failing. Because if you do not know the fundamentals, the possibility of success in higher math classes is slim to none.

Which Cap Is Yours?
Which Cap Is Yours?

Your Future Begins Now!

Getting prepared mentally for college also means formulating good study habits. From a low attention span for specific classes and topics to constant interruptions and diversions, finding a suitable study area to study in and ideal study partners (if needed) can be a challenge. You may also need resources other than your text books. Study in the schools library and use its resources to help you. Even use your local public library to get focused and get a tutor if you can make time. It is important to recognize that most of your old study antics and washed up techniques that worked in high school, just will not work for college level material. Remember, the better the university/college, the more challenging the learning process will be. Be sure to buy all the necessary college tools as well. A laptop with Microsoft Office, a USB flash drive like the Toshiba 8gb USB 2.0 Flash Drive (currently selling for $18.99 USD at Amazon), basic school supplies (pens, pencils, spirals, etc.), and the miscellaneous items your professors will be sure to tack onto your course syllabus will all come in handy.

Once you have everything you need, you will be ready for your first college semester. Some of your fears may feel justified, thinking that you have been out of school for so long, you may fail or just suck at it. Plenty of people have failed from a lack of motivation, a lack of self-confidence, or even a lack of interest. However, when it comes to pursuing and receiving a college education for whatever your reasons may be doing it, a failure to attempt to do so is neither adequate or appropriate. College is a once in a lifetime experience so go for it. Some people may attempt to criticize your late pursuit of a higher education, so just remember that what is important to you is the only thing that matters and that some people need to maintain certain illusions and criticize others in order to function. Send me a graduation picture and good luck freshman!



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    • S.K. profile imageAUTHOR

      Craig Holman 

      6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thank you Prakash. I hope it does as well.

    • Prakash Dighe profile image

      Prakash Dighe 

      6 years ago from Dallas, Texas, USA

      Well done - very informative, and hopefully it motivates others to follow suit!

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