JACKSON, MISS– Many Mississippi adults want to go back to school, but they aren’t quite sure where or when to start.
“Seventy-five percent of all students are juggling jobs and/or children and school all at the same time,” says Ann Hendrick of the Get to College Program through Education Services Foundation in Jackson, “what we think of as the traditional student is really the minority now.”
So when you’ve decided it is time to go back to start or finish that degree, what do you do next? Hendrick says weigh your options before jumping straight into an online program.
“Online schooling takes a lot of discipline,” says Hendrick, “some students need the structure of the classroom. Just because online is convenient doesn’t mean it is conducive to a strong learning environment.”
Hendrick also warns that though it seems tempting to jump right into an online program, do your research before choosing a school. For profit schools may have the degree, but not deliver the same results that students need.
“We see so many students who take out all this money for a for-profit school that isn’t accredited,” says Hendrick.
If a school doesn’t have accreditation, it could be difficult to find a job after you’ve finished the program. That’s why Hendrick warns all students to weigh their options before jumping in.
“Before paying for all that money for a for-profit college,” says Hendrick, “check out our wonderful community college system, which could be more cost-effective.”
If you’re unable to pay for college out of pocket, you’ll need financial aid. Though state funded grants are usually reserved for full-time students, part-timers have access to outside funding and federal grants.
“Pell grant, fortunately, can be used for part-time or full-time schooling,” says Hendrick, “then there’s scholarships within the the college for ACT scores, achievement, etc.”
Coca-Cola, Walmart, and other big companies also offer scholarships. Many independent scholarships can be found through trusted sources online, such as with the Education Services Foundation.
But Hendricks warns that if you’re relying on any funding, you’ll need to meet the deadlines.
“The reason why so many people don’t get money for college,” says Hendricks, “is because they don’t get admitted into school early enough. They miss the early worm deadlines, which is also the deadline for pell grant and most scholarships.”
For more information on going back to school, check out www.get2college.org.