If you started school at a college or university but had to dropout because of life or financial circumstances, you are not alone. Only about 60% of students who start a 4 year degree program finish within six years. The reasons someone might need to withdraw from college are countless. Just like the reasons someone might want to return to school are as wide and varied as the 38% of undergraduate students who are considered non-traditional because they’re over 25.
One of the biggest reasons to consider a return to school to complete your degree is financial. Often it’s difficult to get on the career track you want (with the salary you need) if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree. What’s more, if you had to borrow to attend school, you may even be saddled with student loan payments without the benefit of the salary bump the degree would have given you. It’s a very difficult position to be in. So where do you start to get back to school? We’ll walk you though it.
1 – Research degrees you may want
Rather than looking backward, look forward. What degrees interest you? Unless you have a particular passion for a career track or field, try to keep your mind open to several options. Online degree programs are often a great place to start, but maybe you’d like to go back to a traditional campus life—whatever you want, try to choose a few options for yourself. Keep finances in mind as well as the length of time any program may offer, and if you must be a full-time or part-time student.
2 – Reach out to admissions at every school you’re interested in
Your next step is to contact admissions at a school you’re interested in and ask if you can talk to someone about how well your transcript will transfer for the program you’re interested in. While the admissions team probably won’t be able to guarantee anything will transfer, they may be able to help guide you or help you connect with an academic advisor.
3 – Do some cold hard calculations
Now that you have an idea of how well your previous school experience will transfer, it’s time to just do the math. Which programs work best with the credits you already have? Every credit you can transfer is time and money you won’t have to spend completing your degree. While this doesn’t mean you should rule out a course you’re really interested in, it will help you sum up the pros and cons of each option well.
4 – Trust your gut
Now that you know how well you will transfer into the courses you’re interested in, trust your intuition. While it may come down to the numbers for which course you can complete in the least amount of time at the lowest cost, the amount of research you’ve done into your chosen programs may lead you to consider something that may take a little longer or cost a little more. Just remember, you’re choosing a new career path you’ll be on for years to come and making sure you’re going the right direction may be worth a little extra work at the beginning!