Tag Archives | back to school

Image by www.audio-luci-store.it on Flickr

Image by www.audio-luci-store.it on Flickr

From the outside, the rate of college students who leave before finishing doesn’t seem that bad. In 2011, the last year for which statistics are available, 59 percent of full-time, first-time college students who had started working toward their degrees within the six years prior earned bachelor’s degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That means less than half left college before completing their degree.

If you’re among the 41 percent who dropped out, however, your perspective on the issue is likely more bleak.

Without a degree, you’ve almost certainly had doors closed in your face for jobs you really wanted – and would have been good at. Widely used culling programs automatically discard the resumes of job applicants without a degree, so your relevant work experience and stellar work ethic sometimes never even have a chance to be seen by human eyes. If you do get a foot in the door and land an interview, your lack of degree may still be a deal-breaker, no matter how well you impress the interviewer.

Finishing college makes you less likely to be unemployed or underemployed. Unemployment rates for people with bachelor’s degrees are about half the rates for people who never finished college, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You’ll earn more, too. A four-year degree can help you earn nearly $400 more per week than someone who left college, and a graduate degree may mean you earn $981 a week more than someone with no degree, the BLS reports.

Perhaps the most disheartening news of all, however, is that dropping out of college can impact your physical and mental health, too. People who’ve completed higher education degrees are less likely to suffer from depression and mental disability, will likely live longer, and have a lower risk of developing serious, life-long illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Chances are, you’ve always regretted not completing your degree. You don’t have to regret it for the rest of your life.

When Going Back is Really Moving Forward

College enrollment is increasing, but how it’s growing might surprise you.

Between 2000 and 2010, enrollment of students 25 and older (the group most likely to include people re-entering college after dropping out) rose more than 42 percent. In contrast, enrollment by those 25 and younger grew just 34 percent during the same time frame. What’s more, older Americans are also returning to school, according to the American Council on Education. While some of them are doing so to facilitate career changes, others are going back to college to complete degrees long left unfinished.

Why Wouldn’t You Go Back?

Regardless of all its inarguable benefits, going back to college is not without its challenges.

For one thing, the cost of a college degree continues to escalate, both for first-time students and those re-entering the academic world. Since 1985, college tuition costs have soared 500 percent, according to a Bloomberg report. By contrast, the cost of health care has risen 286 percent, and the consumer price index just 121 percent during the same timeframe.

In the 2013-2014 academic year, tuition at in-state, four-year public colleges rose 2.9 percent to $8,893, according to the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center. At out-of-state four-year public colleges, annual tuition was $22,203, an increase of 3.1 percent. Tuition at private nonprofit four-year colleges and for-profit schools was $30,094 and $15,130, respectively, increases of 3.8 percent and .5 percent.

Even students who qualify for financial aid or who are able to fund their own education may find it challenging to juggle college demands, work schedules, and family obligations. Others may worry about fitting in culturally on campuses dominated by much younger students.

Still the wealth of benefits a college degree delivers can make it well worth the investment of time, money, and passion to overcome any obstacles to your re-entry into college. If you’re still unsure, consider one more valuable piece of information:

Your already-completed college coursework may be transferable, even if you’ve been out of school for years.

The Boon of Credit Transfer Programs

As a college dropout returning to school, you have advantageous access to a tool unavailable to most traditional first-time students or older students going to college for the first time. You may be able to apply the credits you’ve already earned toward your renewed pursuit of a college degree.

As more people return to college, institutions across the country are recognizing the value of credit transfer programs and policies. Many schools, public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, offer some type of credit transfer. You’ll need to share your previous college transcript with your new school, and the transfer credits must be approved by the college. Should you qualify for the program, you’ll re-enter college with advanced standing – having already accrued some of the credits you need to graduate.

If you’re ready to take advantage of all the benefits – both professional and personal – associated with a college degree, your first step should be to research schools. As important as it will be to find one with just the right degree program, you should also consider flexibility of scheduling and how generous (or restrictive) their transfer credit policy is.

With more options than ever for earning your degree, it’s never too late to go back to college and upgrade your status from college dropout to college graduate.

This article was contributed by Lizzie Wann.

Image by Georgia Southern on Flickr

Image by Georgia Southern on Flickr

Whether returning from school after a much needed summer break, or going back to school after a brief lapse to finish your degree, there are several things you need to prepare in advance to make the transition smooth. Getting organized and prepared for the school year in advance can help ease the transition to student life, calm your nerves and create a more enjoyable experience.

Access Your Syllabus
It used to be that you had to wait until the first day of class to obtain your syllabus. Now, many teachers make the syllabus available online for students to view ahead of time. Once you know your class schedule, you can often check the class website for any notes and other materials you’ll need for the class. Make a plan for your semester and schedule specific times to complete work for each class. This way, when you arrive on campus, you’ll be able to hit the ground running and not miss a single beat.

Electronics, Tablets, and Computers
These days, you can’t attend school without some basic electronics. A tablet, laptop and note-taking devices are all important items that will serve you well in college. When you consider the average cost of a year of tuition, the cost for upgraded hardware is well worth the investment. The average tablet will easily last you through a four- or five-year program. Make sure your laptop is powerful enough to run your word processing applications and any other student-specific apps you might need to participate in your classes. Install any software you need before arriving on campus. If you don’t yet have all the software you plan to use, look online for companies that provide student discounts. Often, you can get discounted or free software from your school, so make sure you check around before paying for any new software.

Get a Storage Unit
Especially for students living in shared housing and dorms, a storage unit such as The Storage Center can make your college life much safer and less stressful. Paying a set monthly fee to store your less-oft needed valuables in a storage unit can protect you from potential theft and damage of your items.

Buy Items in Bulk
Water, food, extra school supplies, and anything else that you don’t need immediate access to can be placed in your storage unit. This can help keep your valuables safe, save you time and manage your budget since you won’t have to run to the store every time you run out of paper or notebooks. Take a trip to a warehouse and buy your supplies in bulk for the entire semester. This way you can concentrate on your studies, and worry less about budgeting for school supplies along the way. Plus, when you go home for the summer, you’ll have a unit ready and waiting to store your items.

Most college students would like to have a car, but in most cases, it’s not really necessary. Even if you do have a car for weekend outings and exploration, consider getting a bicycle as well. Using your bicycle on campus can be one of the easiest ways to get quickly between classes. This is especially important if you need to schedule one or more classes within 5 minutes of each other. You’ll be grateful during the hot, summer months that you decided to have a bicycle to trek around campus. When you go home for the summer, you can keep your wheels in your storage unit and not have to worry about taking it home with you.

School is an exciting time in your life, and by preparing for the semester in advance, you can make your experience a success. It’s important to limit and reduce your distractions as much as possible. Going to the store, dealing with car issues and wasting time trying to fix and old and outdated computer take away from time you could be using to enjoy your college experience. Save money and be prepared for anything by staying organized and planning your semester in advance.

This article was contributed by guest author Lizzie Weakle.

Image by Christopher Neugebauer, Flickr

Image by Christopher Neugebauer, Flickr

Summer is coming to a close and everyone is doing all they can to soak up their last few days of sunshine and freedom. While you attempt to claim every second of your vacation, you should also be mentally preparing yourself for the rigours of school. It will help reduce stress levels and get you on a good start to an amazing school year.

Adjust your Sleep Schedule

You may be used to sleeping at 1 A.M. and waking up at noon, but you should start getting your body used to your school schedule. If you have 9 A.M. classes in the fall and need to be awake by 7 A.M. to get ready and commute, consider being in bed by 11 P.M. or earlier. It will help you wake up with ease on that dreaded September day and beat the tiredness and grumpiness your classmates will feel.

Go Back-to-School Shopping

Nothing gets you in the mood for school like back-to-school shopping. A lot of stores currently have great deals on pens, paper, planners, laptops, tablets, and other school supplies. Seeing others in the store preparing for school with shopping carts piled high with notebooks and pens is extremely motivational, and dare I say it, even exciting. Getting lost in the stationery aisle is a personal favourite activity of mine. Once you’re stocked up, you’ll be ready to take plenty of notes!

Hang Out at School

Before you accuse me of rambling like a nerd, think about it. Being around school is a great way to avoid being overwhelmed on the first day. It’s like dipping your toes into the pool before diving in, and you can enjoy the campus without stress. Get yourself acclimated to the school and navigate your way around before the crowds of students come in. Visit your classrooms or find your new favourite study spot in the library. Especially helpful for first year students, you’ll be able to get comfortable in an unfamiliar setting.

Pre-read Your Textbooks

Not exactly the most fun summer activity, but it will help lessen your stress in the coming weeks. If you’re lucky enough to have a list of required textbooks early, purchase and read the first few chapters. During the school year, it will feel like you have no time to read. You will thank yourself for tackling a bit of it in the summer and eliminating some stress. If you can get a hold of your course syllabus, you can get yourself ready for the course load and help relieve some academic anxiety.

What if you don’t have your book list yet? Get in the habit of reading. If you haven’t cracked open a book in a while, it will be difficult to adjust to the amount of reading you will have to do in school. Get yourself prepared by reading a couple pages of a book – any book – every day.

Think of Ways to Improve

Everyone makes several mistakes in their previous year of school. Reflect on the last year, whether it was in university or high school, and think about the things you want to improve upon, whether academic or social. University is all about self-improvement and preparing yourself to be an incredible human being. Start off your list with something everyone should improve on: remembering to relax and have fun!