How to get into college. For adults. The Opening Steps (Part 3)

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Continuing today, the site is featuring a long form discussion of how to get into college and earn a bachelors degree specifically tailored to adults who are facing the same challenges as everyone else in today's economy. Enjoy!

How To Get Into College, The Opening Steps

Which brings us to the point, we're battle hardened, smarter than we remember, (probably laid off and between jobs) and ready to start school to get another way to make money.

OK, great, where to start. First off, what do you want to do? Guidance counselors loved asking that question, but I find myself asking why in all logical sense were teenagers supposed to answer that question? Looking back I always joke with my wife that if I somehow went back in time and met myself, I would in all likelihood smack myself upside the head, forced me to get a haircut and to put down that video game controller. Seriously, I was an idiot when I was a teenager! But the question stands, and we are able to actually know how to answer.

But here's something that you may not ever have been told, it's not about “what you want to be when you grow up”, it's about what you would find interesting to do for 40 hours a week. We've all had horrible jobs, we've all been paid next to nothing, and some of us have even made a half way decent amount of money doing something we mildly enjoyed doing. But there you are, what do you want to do to make money? I realized I hated working under foremen, working a line job, standing at a cash register all day, or getting a Q-comm message at 2am to take a load from who knows where to who even cares. I ended up realizing that I enjoyed solving problems, and working with customers to solve their problems. I asked around, and even searched the internet to see what professions did just that and I found a few ideas to which I looked into even deeper. It actually took a fairly long time, a few months in my case to find out what the title was for what I wanted to do. So if you don't know exactly what you want to do when you finally decide to take the plunge and start school again, you're not alone. But I will give this bit of advice: start now. I don't mean apply at the nearest college or calling some 800 number you saw for some college that promises the world (trust me on this, don't ever, ever go to one of those schools), I mean talk to your friends, or your wife (or husband, since my wife was looking over my shoulder and punched me just then haha) or just think about it on the job. What do you enjoy doing, and what would you not mind doing for 40 hours a week.

Since my wife just came into this, I'll put this in here, the money you make after graduating from school matters. But it should not be what gets you back into school. I drove a truck for 7 years before going back to school and really couldn't complain about the money I was making. What got me back to school was that I was gone for weeks at a time, had one of those dispatchers that are always trying to “maximize productivity,” and missed everything that made making all that money even worth anything. I worked just for the sake of working, and sure I supported everyone in my life but I was missing out on some events that I can never replace. To put it another way, I went back to school so I could make the same amount, or more money and still be able to be with my friends and family.

We will assume that you've spent the last however long talking to your friends, seeing what they do for a living, looking around at what you would want to do, and generally just figuring things out, you have an idea of what you would like to train for next. Here is the next move, who is going to be able to train you in the least amount of time, and well enough to be worth anything.

Here comes the first hitch, where to go is actually the domain of a very competitive market place. Some schools go as far as to pay the best athletes, *ahem* I mean give them scholarships, to convince you that their school is the best in the land. Some buy commercials throughout the day just to show you how happy their graduates are, and how successful their lives have become. What it boils down to is, what programs do they actually offer, and how do you benefit from them?

I will only allude to the horrible idea that is spending money on a for-profit school. I do this because they have packs of lawyers who attack anyone who tries to imply that their education could be learned from the back of a cereal box. So here, I will discuss the path required to attend a bachelor offering university.

Continued next with the rules I've found to follow in order to succeed in college.