- With the economy still in a slump, many adults—recent graduates to retirees—are continuing their education, going <b><a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/backtoschool/">back to school</a></b> to make themselves more marketable or simply to enhance their current skill set. But juggling school with work and family, on top of financing your education, can be daunting. However, <b>BlackEnterprise.com</b> has got you covered with these four easy-to-follow tips to get you started as you return to school.—<em>Kahliah Laney</em>
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- <b>Find a Program</b><br><br> Many returning and non-traditional students are not in the same position as first-year undergraduates. With families, full-time jobs, and various financial responsibilities to maintain, full-time programs aren’t always an option. Since finding a program that meets these prospective students’ needs is imperative, universities and colleges offer evening, part-time and weekend programs as great alternatives. For people just looking to improve their skills and not enroll in a degree program, institutions do offer non-degree options.
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- <B>Check Out the Program</b><br><br> After finding a suitable program, reach out to an admissions counselor. These advisors are there to help guide applicants through the often-complicated admissions process, but prospective students must be proactive, too. Find out about the program and don’t be hesitant about getting all of your questions answered, such as curriculum logistics, time and financial commitments, as well as performance expectations. Before delving solely into course requirements, find out what is needed to complete the application package, which includes official transcripts, letters of recommendation and entrance exam scores. To get the complete campus feel, arrange a tour of the school and even sit in on a class to see if your needs will be met. This is a great time to observe the professor-to-student ratio, classroom atmosphere, and level of engagement.
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Know Application Requirements
Some programs require entrance exams, such as the SAT (formerly known as Scholastic Aptitude Test), Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Law School Admission Test (LSAT), so be sure to find out in advance. If one is required, take a practice exam to see how you score and compare your results to the average score of students admitted into the program. This scale is provided on the program’s website or upon request by an admissions counselor. For maximum results, try taking a test-prep course or work through a test-prep book. This preparation should come several months to a year prior to applying to the program. These prospective students should check on previously earned credit or extensive amounts of work experience that can be applied to their upcoming credit hours.
- <b>Secure Financing</b><br><Br> Submit a <b><a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/04/25/10-tips-for-filing-your-fafsa-form-for-college-financial-aid/" target=_blank>Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)</a></b> to find out how much, if any, financial aid you qualify for. Also, check out tax credits and deductions to help undercut the cost of school. Some businesses offer tuition reimbursement to employees continuing their education. For those looking to gain additional skills (and not necessarily a degree), opt to audit a class for no credit or major cost to you. It’s often free or discounted, and alleviates the pressure of completing graded assignments.
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