Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Facing Your Fears of Returning to School

Republished from

The increasing availability of career colleges offering online programs is making it easier and more convenient for working professionals to finish college or earn more degrees. Re-enrolling in college is a great way to make a career transition, learn new skills, study subjects of personal interest, and enhance marketability in the job market.

Unfortunately, many people wanting to make a career change or return to college do not do so because of fear.

The First Step is Admitting It

The following concerns are voiced by many working professionals reluctant to return to school:

Many working professionals are concerned about the cost of returning to college, the time commitment involved, and attending classes with younger students. Many adults considering a return to college are concerned that their employers will be unimpressed with their new degrees or certifications.

However, most working adults re-enrolling in career college, regardless of whether they attend or complete classes online, fit-in well and do not have the aforementioned problems. These students usually enroll with fears and concerns only later to realize that they were overreacting.

Because of the benefits of returning to college, many working professionals that have re-enrolled in college are glad that their fears did not prevent them from obtaining more education.

I'm Afraid I Won't Fit In

Many middle-aged adult returning to college are concerned about standing out and not fitting in with younger students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, college students 25 years or older comprise 40 percentage of all students enrolled in college. Likewise, in 2001, close to 3 million people 35 years or older were enrolled in college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Middle-aged adults with concerns about fitting in at college should consider the following factors:

Many classes can be completed online for those with concerns about attending classes with younger adults. However, increasing numbers of adults not in their twenties are attending college. In fact, many adults enjoy interacting and learning with younger students enthusiastic about education.

I'm Afraid It Will Be Too Expensive

It can be expensive returning to college. The expense alone is enough to cause many working adults to reconsider their decision to return to school. However, when education is viewed as an investment, the costs of attending college do not seem as large of an obstacle. It’s best to have a long term rather than short term perspective. In fact, salary increases associated with obtaining more education often offset the costs of returning to school. Many colleges, including those offering online courses, are inexpensive to attend. Before deciding against returning to school, consider how a return will help you achieve your long-term career and educational goals.

I'm Afraid It Will Take Up Too Much Time

It’s not unreasonable for working professionals to feel overwhelmed with their current responsibilities. As a result, returning to school can be very intimidating. Working full-time, raising a family, and fulfilling other responsibilities are enough to occupy already full schedules.

However, it’s possible to make time to return to school. It may require sacrificing time spent enjoying leisurely activities, but it is possible to make the time. If you set a goal and have unwavering commitment to reach it, you can develop the ability to make sacrifices.

Working professionals wanting to return to school but concerned about the time commitment should consider enrolling in online classes. These classes can be completed whenever students have time, whether it be early in the morning or late in the evening. Students are not required to attend classes and course requirements can be completed at home.

I'm Afraid It Will Take Forever To Complete My Degree

It usually requires four years to obtain a bachelor’s degrees, two years to obtain a master’s degree, and nearly eight years to complete a doctorate program as a full-time student. That may not seem as an impossible task for a young adult with the time, but it can be very intimidating for someone with a full-time job and family responsibilities.

However, most colleges offer accelerated learning programs. As a result, these programs require less time than would be required if one pursued their degree the traditional way. Semesters are shorter, usually 5 weeks, and educational quality is not sacrificed to speed through course material. Many students obtain degrees in under a year.

I'm Afraid That Employers Won't Take My Degree Seriously

People often decide against going back to school because they cannot attend an ivy league or other well respected institution. These people frequently assume that their employers will be unimpressed if they earn a degree from a lesser known institution.

However, most companies consider degrees obtained from career colleges as acceptable and of the same quality as degrees obtained through traditional programs. In the past, employers may have not considered online degrees from career colleges in the same way as they viewed programs obtained through traditional colleges, but the quality of online programs continues to improve and offers the type of training and education available at a traditional college. Likewise, students completing online programs will develop, or further develop, technology skills highly sought after by many companies, and they may impress their employers by taking initiative to broaden their knowledge and acquire new skills.

I'm Afraid I Won't Learn Anything New Or Valuable

Working professionals often become concerned that returning to school will not significantly benefit them. In other words, they feel that they will not learn anything new they haven’t learned working or develop skills that will improve their marketability in the workforce.

However, most people who’ve completed online career college programs will attest to the exact opposite. College classes at accredited schools are taught by qualified individuals with expertise and experience in the subject they teach, and classes at most career colleges are full of working professionals from various backgrounds. If students decide to attend classrooms or complete classes online, they will still learn new things they never considered and benefit from the opportunity of interacting with other professionals.

Likewise, programs offered at many career colleges emphasize group learning and team work. In these programs, students work closely with instructors and their fellow classmates. Group work and interaction enables students to learn from other professionals with various work experiences. New knowledge acquired from group interaction can immediately be applied to work situations.

Why Make The Move?

Since many online colleges cater exclusively to working professionals, there are few, if any, reasons why an adult should hesitate returning to school. They can greatly benefit from deciding to pursue more education. The following are benefits of returning to school as a working professional:
  • Promotion or career advancement opportunities: Returning to school is one way to improve your chances to get promoted, or it is one strategy for beginning a career transition.
  • Finish a started degree: Many college students find opportunities in the workforce before completing college. However, it is never too late to return and finish a degree.
  • Demonstrate to your children and future generations the importance of education: If you set an example for your children, they are more than likely to attend college and enjoy the benefits of earning a degree.
  • Gain the necessary knowledge and prepare for managing your own business: It is very challenging to successfully run a small business, so developing skills and acquiring business knowledge will be very beneficial.
It can seem intimidating to re-enroll in college, but this should not be a reason for missing out on the benefits of acquiring more education. Adults or working professionals with a plan can smoothly make the transition back to school.

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