Is going back to school as an adult worth it? Is the college or any further education worth the cost? Or will it be a waste of money? These are the questions you need to ask yourself before making the life-changing decision of continuing your education.
As we all know, college is not cheap. Even if we just want to take some courses or something else that is not a college degree, we still need to pay for that course/lesson.
On top of that, pursuing an education means we will also need to allocate some time and energy to actually finish them. Those are other kinds of investments we need to consider.
There is plenty of pros and cons to going back to school. The list might be completely different from one person to another.
One certain situation can be an advantage for a person, but for others, the same kind of situation could be a disadvantage for them. Here, we are going to talk about the things we absolutely need to do before going back to school as adult students
Regardless, the decision to continue our education is not something we could take lightly. Being an adult with responsibilities such as work and family only adds more worries about whether it is worth it to go back to college or pursue any type of further education at all, considering now we have more to lose.
I personally think a college education still matters. That was one of the reasons why I went back to school as an adult myself a couple of years ago, and I did it when my daughter was still a toddler. On top of that, I decided to pursue my study abroad.
Yes, I brought my family (husband and daughter) to move halfway across the globe. It was doable after all. But having said that, I wouldn’t recommend that to everyone.
Because even though a degree or any kind of further education is one of the most important and beneficial investments you can make, to be able to thrive and survive your once-in-a-lifetime adventure of going back to school as an adult learner or student mom and dad, you need to make sure that you :
1. Have Clear Goal(s) for The Future
What is your main reason for wanting to go back to college or pursuing any type of further education in the first place? Do you want to change your career?
Do you after a promotion at your work and need higher education or a certain type of certification to qualify and be considered for the promotion?
Do you want to be an entrepreneur, be your own boss, and work 0n your own time, and thus you need specific skills or knowledge to achieve that?
Write down your goals, envisioned them, and start to work on them backward. Once you know your end goals, you will know what you’ll need to do to achieve them.
2. Find the Perfect Major/ subjects
This is crucial. Now that you know precisely what you want as your end goal, the next step is to make sure you find the perfect “vehicles” for that.
In this case, you will want to make sure you find the perfect major or course subjects for you. The days when people had gone to college thinking that a degree in anything eventually got them a stellar career was over.
The more people go to college, the more average the group becomes. Saturating the market with a generic college degree will not be beneficial for you, whatsoever.
With the development of new technologies, new fields emerge. Dozens of jobs unheard of before become available. New skills are in demand.
The need to have a unique selling proposition is becoming more prevalent nowadays. Especially when you are an adult student, where you are put more at risk by going back to school.
You need to make sure all the sacrifices you’ll have to make will be worth it someday. The more you add value to yourself, the better your ROI (return on investments) will be.
3. Find the Right School
After choosing the subject/major, another crucial thing is finding the right school/college/educational institution for you. If you wish to pursue a higher degree level of education, like it or not, the reputation of the institution matter.
Asian countries, such as Korea and my own country Indonesia, for example, both have their own trifecta of the best universities in the country, where the alumni enjoyed the privilege of being chosen by the employer over others who did not graduate from those universities.
But don’t worry, you don’t need to be admitted to the most reputable college/university to succeed. Just make sure you choose the college/courses that have the best major/courses in the area of expertise you want to take and graduate with flying colors
4. Have the Right Motivation
Motivation is what drives us in doing many things and affects different aspects of our life. The more motivated we are in doing something, the more fun we have doing it, and the better the outcome will be.
The same principle applies when it comes to studying. Furthermore, going back to school as a mature student, when we already become an adult with many responsibilities such as work and family, having the right motivation is one of the things that keep pushing us forward.
The road of going back to college, and pursuing further/higher education as an adult learner, student mom, or dad is not easy, and lonely since few people choose to walk on this path.
Before you start to embark on the back-to-school journey, list down the things that motivate you, and the reasons why you want to do this in the first place.
When you are feeling down, think of those motivations and use them as fuel to recharge your energy. Bear in mind that the hardships are manageable, and you’ll get through these and that your end goals are just around the corner.
5. Have Positive Attitudes and Discipline
Back to college as an adult also will be worth it if you are disciplined and have a positive attitude. It goes without saying that you will be shedding blood, sweat, and tears in the process.
Without good self-discipline, it will be easy for you to fall behind schedules. After all, with all that craziness in your hectic life, you have all the perfect reasons anyway to be behind schedule with your tasks and assignments.
But don’t let that derail you from your end goals. If you got delayed or behind once or twice then it’s ok, but catch up immediately, before everything’s piling up and becomes even harder to catch up with what you’ve missed.
Having positive attitudes will also be beneficial for your journey of pursuing higher/further education. It will make the hardships bearable and keep your energy level high.
When you are happy and in high spirits, you will be able to think clearly and see things more objectively, which are beneficial traits in the studying and learning process.
6. Have a Strong Support System
Going back to school as an adult learner will also be worth it when you have a strong support system. It could be anything, from a supportive spouse, cooperative child(ren), accommodating school/college, and others.
This point is important because if one of them is not strong enough to support you, the others have to be strong enough to cover it.
For example, if the school/college is not flexible enough for you to work on your schedule around your other responsibilities such as work and/or family, then you have to rely more on your spouse/partner to take care of your child or ask your teammates and boss to be more understanding and cover some of your work for you or extending your deadline since you have to attend classes.
Another example, when I went back to school a couple of years ago, my husband was willing to give up his career to accompany me to study abroad in Italy (a sweet gesture that paid off eventually, since not long after we moved here, he got a job himself and that sacrifice was not for nothing after all).
If he didn’t, most likely I had to go abroad alone or stay in my home country, study at a local university, and give up my dream of studying abroad.
7. Have a Good Safety Net
Another reason for going back to school as an adult learner or as a parent will be worth it, is when you have a good safety net, financially.
This is crucial because education is not cheap. Even in a country that offers free education, it will not be entirely free. There are costs that you still have to cover, starting from the beginning and all the way until you finish your education
Before you enroll, make sure you have adequate funding to cover all the costs you need to finish your education.
Apply and secure a scholarship, big discounts (courses often offered discounts, check if the course you have eyes on offered one), ask if you could arrange to pay in installments, apply for a student loan, et cetera.
If you are going to self-funded your education, allocate a certain amount of money every month for certain periods of time. Put them diligently and don’t use them for any other purpose. You need to separate your emergency funds, so this one is completely for continuing your education purpose only.
Furthermore, If you want to study abroad, attend college in another city, or your classes schedules are so full and like it or not, you are required to quit your job temporarily and add your monthly expenses to your back-to-college/courses funds.
Calculate the months from the very beginning until the end of your course and ADD SOME EXTRA MONTHS after the estimation of your graduation month.
If you need extra help, use this budget tracker. I made it based on my personal experience of studying abroad. I used this tracker to calculate all my expenses and manage my budget.
This way, if you don’t find a job immediately after graduation, you will still have enough money to cover your expenses for several months until you find a new job.
8. Have a Back-Up Plan
Although it sounds unpleasant, the truth is, that things could go wrong and derail your plan. Having a backup plan will allow you to act fast and accordingly.
For example, in my case, I wanted to study abroad, but if my husband didn’t want to resign from his job and moved with me, I had two options; go to Italy by myself or stay in my country and choose a local university.
Or, even if my family wanted to go with me and moved to Italy, if I didn’t secure any scholarships or funding, we couldn’t go because we didn’t have enough money to do that.
Anyway, my point is, to think about different kinds of scenarios. What could happen if you did this or didn’t have that? Think about each of them carefully and what are the options you have for each of them as a plan B.
Therefore, once something unexpected happened (and it will, whether it is a small thing that won’t affect you much or a big thing that will change your carefully written plan ), you will know what the best options are to react to the new development in your plan.
Over to you,
Going back to school as an adult learner, mature student, student mom, and dad, or whatever you want to call it, it’s not easy, but it definitely worth it.
Investing in education is always a good investment, which will benefit you in many ways. In some cases, it will be more than you could always imagine.
Having said that, still, before we take the big leap toward a better future and enroll, we need to make sure we have clear goals for the future we want to have after completing our education and choose the perfect major/courses at the right college/educational institution.
Within ourselves, we also need to have the right motivation to want to go back to school in the first place, have a good discipline and positive attitude, have a strong support system and safety net, and have a good backup plan for when things do not go as planned.
When we have all that, the long and rigorous journey of going back to school will be a lot easier and rewarding, and it will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make in your life.
Do you think pursuing higher or further education is worth it? What are the things you need to have to make the journey easier?
Do you agree with the points mentioned above? Do you have something to add? Comment down below, I would like to know what you are thinking…
Talk to you again soon!!
Pssst…if you think there’s someone in your circle who was thinking about going back to college, please share this on your social media or pin it!! Who knows if this will be useful for them…