It’s never too late. Well, at one point it will be, but that’s not what we’re talking about today. Today is Tuesday, so Education is the topic. It’s never too late to get an education. Whether you just graduated high school and didn’t plan on going to college, or you never got that high school degree or maybe you got it thirty years ago which is closer to my case, or you went to college but didn’t finish, it isn’t too late to go now or at some point in the future.
In my opinion, a college degree today is akin to a high school degree thirty years ago. Having the degree will at least allow you to apply for all those jobs that require a four year degree. Still, there are a lot of college graduates that can’t find a job in their related field or in any field at all. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of jobs that don’t need college, skilled labor for instance, but even many of those are easier to get if you attend a certificate program for that specific skill at a community college.
There are some smart ways to go about getting a degree and there are some dumb ones. Dumb may not be the right word, more like hazardous. One of the main mistakes students make is not knowing what degree program they are interested in. Gone are the days when going to college is a way to “find yourself” by taking all sorts of different subjects to see where your interest lies. Well, you can still do that, but it is very costly. You’ll end up with lots of various classes and no specific degree. I take that back; if you don’t know what you want to do and taking all sorts of different classes sounds interesting, then by all means take that route. Just know that the degree you end up with will be a General Studies program or a University Studies degree which is fine and dandy if you are not especially good with math or science or you aren’t sure what you want to do with your life. Just having a Bachelors degree, just having that diploma is better than nothing. Just be aware, that taking varied classes may not fulfill all of the requirements and that it’s up to you to make sure that you are checking off classes as you go and trying not to take classes that won’t fit anywhere on your degree plan because even a general studies degree has certain requirements.
Seeing an advisor is a must, but putting your future completely in their hands in hazardous. I’ve personally spoken to many students who saw advisors every semester, followed their advice and ended up having to fill in gaps that their advisors didn’t catch early on forcing them to spend more time and money to get their degree. You have to look at the whole picture planning ahead for which classes you’ll need and keeping an eye on when they’re offered. Often colleges offer certain classes in only one semester, be it the spring or the fall. Taking notice of that will help you fit that class in during the appropriate slot. Many students find when registering for their senior year that they have a couple of must have classes that overlap and they have to choose one and take the other over the summer or the following fall delaying their graduation. You can’t expect an advisor to catch that. I’m not saying that advisors do it intentionally, but colleges do benefit monetarily the longer a student stays in school. It may not look as good on their graduation rates, but it does increase their income and student numbers for that next semester.
The smartest way to go to college is to have a rich parent who can pay for it all. But that’s not really dependent on being smart, now is it? We’re stuck with the parents we were born to. The next smartest way is to get a full ride scholarship. That might sound fine and dandy and I do know people who managed to go that route, but they are in the minority. Ok, so the third smartest route is to know exactly the degree you want, check to see if the closest college (because living at home while in college is THE smartest way to keep expenses low) has the degree you want and if they do, check to see if they liaison with a local community college so that you can do your first two years there. Community colleges are so much less expensive, but only if all the classes you take are accepted by the college to which you plan on transferring. Here again, I’ve seen many students spend time and money on classes which do not fulfill the requirements for the degree they want at the school they want. Sure, they might be core classes, but your desired degree may require certain core classes that you could have taken if you had only known. It’s a good idea to go talk to advisors at the university where you plan to transfer early on and see when you can sign up for a certain year catalog, otherwise, if the catalog in effect the year you transfer has changed, some of your classes still may not fulfill requirements. If that is the case, I advise you to keep climbing the ladder until you find someone who is willing to approve the classes you took since they used to fulfill the requirement.
Visiting an advisor early on and getting a signed letter (or flow chart) showing the list of classes your desired degree requires may help you if you find yourself fighting for classes to be accepted. At the least, keep a copy of the university’s catalog which was in effect when you started taking classes at the community college. If you spend more than two to three years at the community college level and the university changes its required classes, it may be harder to convince them to accept the ones you took, but it’s still worth a try.
Alrighty, I have yard work I need to help hubby with, so I’ll close for now. Just remember, it’s never too late to do something you’ve always wanted to do and it’s never too late to get an education.
P.S. Next week I’ll tell you about going to college at the age of 50!