Did you know, according to Best Colleges, nontraditional students make up the majority of postsecondary education in the U.S.? The notion that “It’s never too late to go back to school” is being brought to life as an increasing number of older students are taking the leap and continuing their studies through community college training programs.
There are plenty of reasons why nontraditional students start community college training, from keeping skills sharp to changing career paths. But no matter what your reason, age should never be a limitation.
Here are four tips for adults who are thinking about going back to school.
Find an accountability partner
Having an accountability partner is a great way to ensure you are making progress in your program. An accountability partner can be a classmate with similar goals who you share updates with on a regular basis or someone from a different program that is also working toward earning a credential in another industry. Accountability partners help you stay motivated and don’t let you procrastinate.
Start by setting up weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with your accountability partner in a space where you won’t get distracted. During your meetings, talk through your assignments and practice your skills. Take the time to unpack each week’s lessons, and make sure you understand the content thoroughly.
Incorporate your family into your education
Taking care of your family while furthering you education can be a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be. Family support is critical for earning a credential, and oftentimes, family members increase motivation and accountability. When you invite your family to be a part of your education, you are setting yourself up for success.
There are several ways that you can involve your family in your training program, from having a house homework period where everyone does their homework together or even getting your kids to create flashcards to help you master the material. Going back to school can be scary, but incorporating loved ones into the program can make the process fun for everyone.
Embrace being the “old” person in the course
Age is irrelevant in education. Nontraditional students are highly valued in higher education and bring diversity to the classroom, especially when they share lived experiences that bring the “real-world” to life.
Going back to school brings an abundance of new experiences, opportunities and friendships for all walks of life, no matter your age or background. Use the opportunity of being the “old” person in class to mentor younger classmates and guide them through their own experiences.
Ask questions during the application process to see if you qualify for additional resources
Financial scarcity is one of the leading reasons why adults fear continuing education. Whether it’s childcare assistance, transportation or program costs, financial support is out there waiting for you.
The average cost of a FastForward training course is less than $750, and this comes from the abundance of financial assistance options available, such as G3, VA Ready and more that help keep the out-of-pocket costs to a minimum for furthering your education.
Virginia’s Community Colleges also have a tool called SingleStop that allows you to see if you qualify for local and state financial assistance. This program connects students to resources and benefits that address challenges outside of the classroom, including financial emergencies, employment assistance, as well as food and housing needs. When applying for a program, contact a career coach to see if you qualify for additional resources.
Remember, it’s never too late to get an education. Ready to achieve your career goals with FastForward? Contact a career coach today to get started.