Whether a career change is in the offing, a job loss has happened in the family, a single parent is looking to make a better income, or simply because of a desire to continue learning going back to school in the after-party, family responsibility years that are the 30 requires a little planning.
Expectations When Considering Heading Back to School
Typically, there are two kinds of students who go back to school in their 30s: those who are finishing up a course they started earlier but had to let lapse because “life” got in the way and those who are looking to complete a degree. It’s important to understand the individual reasons and personal goals as well as take an inventory of “life factors” that will affect or be impacted by the decision to go back to school: kids, spouse, job, and financial security.
By asking a few questions and doing a little research, the back to school decision will be easier than the homework sure to fill evenings to come!
Back to School, but How?
- Talk to others who have been down the same path. For what reasons did they decide to make the decision to go back to school at this age? How did they go about it? To whom did they talk for guidance and counsel?
- It’s important to look at the economic feasibility of such a major decision as well. Sit down and work out a monthly and yearly budget keeping in mind that there will be tuition fees to pay each semester, textbooks to buy, possibly various student fees, a bus pass or gas to purchase to get to school, etc.
- Are there kids involved in the decision-making process? If so, this might change the hours available for classes. For example, if the spouse works during the day, look into whether night classes are offered.
- Look into any loans and bursaries that may be available by calling the admissions office of the college or university.
- Inquire at work whether they offer any incentive programs to further education, especially those related to the field/industry.
- Single? Look for roommates or board with a relative close to the school to help save money. Other money saving techniques: clip coupons, sell the car and take the bus, shop at secondhand stores, and buy textbooks online when there’s an option to buy them used; it’s much cheaper than buying them at the college bookstore.
- Look into online courses; they offer the flexibility of going to school while working to pay the bills and can also be less expensive.
- Keep motivated by enlisting the support of friends and family who can offer encouraging words when things seem overwhelming.
Back to School and Loving It!
Deciding to go back to school can be both a frightening and rewarding experience. Although going back to school in the 30-something years might not be the huge party is was in the care-free days of the early 20s, it is very likely that more will be taken from the experience than when it was just something expected to be done after high school. Taking care to assess every aspect of this momentous next step in life from the financial feasibility to conferring with spouse and family, to ways to save money and/or your job while attending school will make going back to school an endless reward.