Posted in Blogging, Returning to School 30+ Years Later

How Does One Pay for College? – #Undergraduateadult

Image courtesy of creative commons license By: Tax CreditsCC BY 2.0 via flickr.com

Are you thinking of going back to school?

For years I kept thinking about my missed opportunity to go to college after graduation. My friends went, their friends went, and all found professional careers.

But I never went. Instead, I settled for being a low skilled worker. I never viewed myself as a low-skilled worker until recently. All those different jobs I did over the years never added much to my skill sets. They were fundamental skills that could be applied to most anything, except to a profession.

I was happy with my basic skill set. What mattered to me was making a living. When I say making a living, I’m talking about a surviving living when one can afford to live off of the weekly pay they make. There was a time when companies would make certain that their workers could afford to live in their communities by keeping up with the cost of living increases. This isn’t happening so much anymore.

More and more businesses are balking at giving employees cost of living raises or any raises for that matter. It takes money away from their bottom line. If they dish out raises than they won’t be able to keep people on for resources.

Well for the past couple of years, it has become more and more difficult for me to continue living within my community. The cost of heating fuel has increased, the cost of health care has grown, and the cost of food has increased. But, my wages have not.

Something needs to change, I guess it has to be me. If I want to earn a better salary, then I need to have a better job. To do that, I need to improve my skills by going back to school and earning that degree.

How will you pay for your education?

When I first started looking at colleges, I didn’t know anything about financial aid. I thought one had to pay out of their own pocket for schooling since it had been years since I had applied to go to school. Financial aid packages were only for the students that were heading to college right after high school. At least that was what I thought. Had I only known…

Have you ever wondered if you could afford it?

I thought, I could take out a loan, or put my education on a credit card. But that sort of financing would only cover the cost of one or two terms. I lacked the cash or monetary funds to pay for the courses from my own pocket. Scholarships would work, but how does one get them? Especially when they have been out of school for so long?

More than likely you can afford the cost of college if you have never enrolled.

I hemmed and hawed about going back to school until my student advisor told me that it wasn’t as expensive as I thought.

How could $380 a credit not be considered expensive?

She had me apply for financial aid, otherwise known as a Pell Grant.

Pell Grants are money from the Federal Government that is used to pay for a higher education. This money is not paid back. The loans that follow that is what is paid back over time.

This money is based on your income. You submit a copy of your tax return and then the government decides how much money and what kind of money you qualify for based on your income. Then you don’t need to repay the loans until you are done with school or drop your course load below full-time status.

Had I known about this money and how easy it was to file for, I would have gone back to school sooner.

Are you still wondering if you can afford to go back to school?

 

Visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa to learn how you could afford your higher education.

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Posted in Blogging, Returning to School 30+ Years Later

College Classroom style: Traditional, hybrid, or 100% online courses #UndergraduateAdult

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Do you know how much college has changed over the years?

I didn’t. I found out when I decided to enroll this past term. The last time I looked into taking classes was way back in the ‘90s. Back then there were Traditional classes during the day, classes at night for those who had a job during the day, and classes on the weekend. I hardly ever saw any mention of long distance learning.

When I began looking at returning to school this past March, I was surprised to see that there were more choices to obtaining a college degree from a reputable school. They still had the traditional classes and the night time classes, but now there were a couple of other options offered. Hybrid and 100% online courses.

What are Hybrid classes?

These classes are attended as either in a classroom setting or online. Some people need to be in a real room with others to learn. This gives the choice to take part in the classes online at the same time of seeing the teacher and other classmates. It all depends on your style of learning and whether you have the computer skill sets to learn online. It the online experience is not working out; you have the option to appear in class instead.

I picked the 100% online classes. I have no fear of computers or the internet. In fact, I prefer the online classes over the traditional setting. I can do all my school work from the comfort of my home. These classes allow you to work at your own reasonable pace. Yes, there are still deadlines for when your school work must be turned in and for when a test must be submitted.

One drawback, though – Students must learn to ask questions if they don’t understand the work. You can’t assume that the teacher will know if you don’t understand something. They can’t see that puzzled expression on your face. You’ll have to do more than raise your hand. It’s called email your teacher with your question. Don’t be afraid to ask either. Your grade counts on it.

The online courses are a bit harder. You will need to know how to use a word processor like Microsoft Office or Open Office. All your Assignments and Tests need to be submitted in doc. files. The discussion questions are online only. It is sort of like a chat/group activity. You post your answer to the topic forum by the specified day your instructor has given and then respond a reply to two other classmates before the week is up. My weeks run from Monday to Sunday.

Maybe it is because I am older than most college students, but I find the 100% online classes appeal to me.

Posted in Blogging, Returning to School 30+ Years Later

College Choices – How Difficult Can They Be? #UndergraduateAdult

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Powell via Flicker.com creative commons license

I was the one who didn’t go to college right out of high school. I did my college searches while in my junior and senior year, but I couldn’t decide where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. Picking the college was complicated. My parents didn’t want to spend oodles of money on my education, they wanted me to go to a state school. I wanted to follow the pack. I think our disagreement over which school I wanted to go to caused me to decline my continued education. My indecision scared me. It was easier to go out and find a job.
30+ years later, I find it is easier to pick a college than to find a job. How ironic, the way life has a turnabout when you least expect it.

How I picked my college after all these years

First, I needed to know what I wanted to learn. I’ve had a career for all these years. I’ve even changed careers several times. It wasn’t a matter of what I wanted to do with my life. Things change when you get older. A bucket list appears sometime around your 40th year. There are experiences you want before you won’t have a chance to do them. Maybe travel and see the world. Meet some Hollywood stars. Sail a boat in a harbor. Fly a plane just once. So, when I began to think about going back to school, I didn’t ask myself what I wanted to be when I grow up. I’m already a grown-up. What do I want to learn was the question I asked instead?
I began watching the college catalogs that came in the mail. I would look at the courses offered each time, in search of classes of interest to me. These catalogs were mostly of community colleges. I would see a few courses, but nothing that really excited me.
I looked at other colleges as well. Thinking maybe I needed a school that had more to offer, say Southern NH University. They had their courses that interested me, but the school was too far away. I didn’t want to travel. Then I came across the website for my final choice.
I don’t know if I fell in love with their website? Or, maybe it was the fact that they had degree programs aimed at Undergraduate Adults. I had to check it out. These courses were all online. Huh… Before I knew it I was clicking the link to find out more. By the next day, a student advisor was emailing me back and forth and explaining how easy it would be for me to go back to school after all these years. I had thought that when I couldn’t make my decision after high school, it was a missed opportunity.
My advisor is great! She talked me through the process of getting my high school transcript, applying for financial aid, and registering for classes. I was so excited when my first day came.
It’s been a lot of work; I have a minimum of two years to go. I think maybe four if I go on to a bachelor program afterward. Though at two classes a term it might be a six-year plan. But think of all the subjects I will be learning in the coming years.
This is something a teenager wouldn’t understand until they hit their 50th year.