This brings me to my thoughts on returning to college as an adult. I myself am also returning (start the 10th), but being in my early twenties, it’s not as far-fetched for me as it is for someone who will be getting a degree when they’re 30 (or older), like Mike. Why go back to college now? Maybe you want a more rewarding, higher paying job to better support your family. Perhaps you feel you can get further in your company if only you had that degree. Maybe you’re looking for something new and to switch fields altogether.
For people without a college degree, finding work, especially if you’re unemployed, is extremely difficult. Almost every job ad out there states they are looking for someone with a Bachelor’s degree so that leaves those without one with basically 3 options: Work a low-end job slowly work your way up the corporate ladder year after year hoping you make a decent living; be one of the lucky few to strike it rich by inventing something or opening your own business (although a degree would significantly help in this instance); OR get a degree and start earning a decent living right away. Having a degree makes you much more marketable than someone without one.
I know it’s pretty daunting to even think about going back to school as an adult. You most likely already devote 40+ hours to a job and don’t think you have the time, especially if you have a family and kids. There are so many options nowadays that I honestly feel like there is no excuse anymore other than you just don’t want to! It sounds mean, but if you want it, you can do it! Colleges now offer night classes, weekend classes, and online classes.
Looking into online colleges, many of them feel like fake colleges with bogus degrees and high tuition costs–I know because I’ve looked into many of them. Once you inquire online, they start hounding you by phone and email trying to convince you to enroll. It’s so sketchy! Now you can avoid all that because many state colleges are offering legitimate online degrees. For example, SUNY (State University of New York) has a list of all online degrees. Check out your state’s colleges to see if they offer something similar!
Another common worry with college is when it comes to finances. I know so many people that flat out say they can’t afford it. What people don’t realize is the amount of financial aid available can easily cover all the costs of going to a state college. Between federal and state grants, federal loans that you don’t pay until you graduate and scholarships for being a transfer or non-traditional student, going to college has never been more affordable! If you’re like my husband who chooses a private institution, out of pocket costs do go up–however, you still have affordable options.
Now for some numbers. On top of grants (free money), as of 2016, federal loans will cover up to $57,500 of your whole undergraduate study. Want to go to graduate school? You can get federal loans up to $138,500 or $224,000 for health professionals. Although the numbers sound ridiculously high, it doesn’t mean you’d need to borrow those full amounts or even pay them back right away! These loans don’t go into full repayment until after you graduate and they are at a low, fixed interest rate. If you needed to borrow $15k a year to cover the leftover expenses that grants didn’t cover for a private school, after 4 years, that’s $60k borrowed. With your new degree, you could be making that in your first to second year of work. The return on investment is incredibly high, don’t you think so?