Adult Education | Back to School | Fall 2012

Adult Education: 15 Tips On Going Back to School

by Taylor Cotter |

beth-flyeIf you’ve decided to recareer, one of the first steps is to decide whether you need to go back to school. If getting another degree, or your first, is the best option for you to have the career of your dreams, you’ll want to make sure you have all the facts straight before you commit to a degree program.

We talked to Beth Flye, the Admissions Director of the MBA@UNC program, who had 15 tips for adults who want to go back to school. Beth Flye has more than seventeen years of higher education admissions experience. She received her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her MBA from Meredith College.

1. Be clear about “why” you want to pursue a particular degree program. This is a life and professional investment and endeavor, so it is important to know what you want and need from your education.

2. Start studying. If you are planning to go back to school, many graduate programs require the GMAT, GRE or other nationalized tests to apply to the program. These test scores need to be sent to the school before your application can be evaluated for admission, so make sure your timing works with when you want to go back to school.

3. Research, research, research! Know what a particular degree program is about and can do for your career. Once you know what degree program you want, thoroughly research a number of different schools who offer that program.

4. Make the final decision with your family. For many people continuing their education, they have families that will need to be fully supportive of their decision to go back to school.

5. Do not limit yourself to considering just one school. Even if you are really interested in a particular school’s program, invest time into comparing and contrasting different programs. This will help you to make an informed decision about which school is best for you.

6. Talk to as many key people as possible at each school (admissions professionals, faculty, current students, alumni, employers who hire students from that program, etc.). Gathering different perspectives will help you to determine if the program is a good fit for you.


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7. Do not rush the application process; take your time and put hard work into this project. It can make or break your admission to a school.

8. Take the time each week to organize your life. Many students find it incredibly helpful to sit down at the beginning of each week to actually schedule in their time for family, work, commitments and studying.

9. If you are a parent, childcare is important to arrange prior to going back to school. Keep in mind that you may need additional childcare at other times when you are studying and working on course projects.

10. Many schools offer fellowships/scholarships, and some may also offer a student loan program. Contact the financial aid office at each school you are considering to learn about the available opportunities.

11. Several companies offer a tuition assistance benefit to full-time employees. Tuition benefit policies vary from company to company. Most organizations that provide this benefit will fund a percentage or fixed amount of tuition, and some organizations will cover the full amount.

12. A primary benefit of an online program format is flexibility, which makes it a good option for someone who wants to continue working full-time while pursuing their education. The actual type of experience of an online program will, of course, vary from school to school.

13. A person who has been away from an educational environment for some time may lack confidence about their ability and readiness to achieve academic success. Even if you feel rusty at first, focus on the strong desire and commitment that motivated you to pursue your degree in the first place. Everything else will fall into place with determination, hard work and discipline.

14. Talk to an admissions officer at each of the schools you are considering to learn more about the types of students in their programs. You will likely find that many online, evening and weekend programs will have a number of students with more years of professional experience which may help you feel more aligned with other classmates.

15. Going back to school is a journey unto itself and the decision should be well-thought out and discussed with key people in your life. Think about and determine where you are in life, what you want to accomplish and what your career endeavors are to make sure that going back to school is the right decision for you.

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