NASHVILLE – As we enter the season of New Year’s resolutions, sticking to goals can be tough, especially as job, family, and other commitments start to take priority. WGU Tennessee, an online nonprofit university designed for working adults, shares a few tips for staying on the right path and reaching your own education goals in 2019.
Define your goals: Some adults return to school because they wish to further their careers, while others return to higher education because they are thinking about changing careers. Before jumping back into a degree program, take some time to speak with your employer – or employers in the field in which you want to work – and find out which credentials they value and what skills they look for in employees.
Consider past experiences: Many students who return to school after working for some time have prior college credits that may be transferable to a new program of study. You should review your academic and employment history so that you know how to hone your educational goals, playing to your strengths and the experience you have already acquired.
Take advantage of grants: Adults without postsecondary degrees or certificates should consider using the Tennessee Reconnect Grant, which offers tuition-free associate degrees or technical certificates from any of the state’s community colleges or Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT). More information is available at www.tnreconnect.gov.
Calculate the costs: Higher education is a big financial commitment, and it is important to consider how you are going to pay for school. Remember, tuition is usually not the only cost that needs consideration. Be sure to account for expenses associated with applying to and attending school: application fees, books, transportation/parking, and other costs. Use Tennessee Reconnect’s cost calculator to get a good idea of what you’ll need to spend to earn a degree.
Consider online programs: Online universities allow adults to balance work and family responsibilities with their pursuit of higher education. Online programs are often lower in cost, and are usually more convenient for busy learners. Just be sure to vet online colleges to ensure they are reputable, accredited, and transparent in their tuition structure. Regional accreditation is preferable over national accreditation.
Apply for scholarships: There are numerous scholarship opportunities available for traditional students and adult learners alike. Research opportunities early in the college application process and invest the time required to apply, as it could be well worth it. For instance, WGU Tennessee’s Tenn-K Scholarship is open until March 15. At up to $10,000 each, the scholarship covers approximately 70 percent of total tuition costs toward a degree. Learn more and apply at www.wgu.edu/tennk.
Find a social support network: Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed, offer you guidance, and help you develop new skills. Colleagues, mentors, family members, and fellow classmates are all ideal resources; but many online support groups are also available and often focus on specific subjects that are challenging for adult learners, such as math and science.