We offer 10 sage tips from experts on how to effectively use community college to switch careers midway through your professional life.
This is the era of mid-life career changers
, whether due to outsourcing, layoffs or dissatisfaction with their current positions. With many more adults deciding to venture into the hallowed halls of higher education today, those who do may find programs geared specifically to their needs. This is particularly true in community colleges, where more than half of the student body may be adults over the age of 22. However, before you launch a career change at your local community college, there are a few tips to keep in mind.
Define Your Goals
Carefully plotting your path is the first step to a successful community college experience, according to Career Search
. When embarking on this process, it is important to consider your educational goals, as well as your professional ones. What classes do you need to take, and what degree do you need to earn to make your professional dreams a reality? This information is essential when you choose a school and register for classes, so have the goals in mind before you begin the process.
Weigh Your Options
Community colleges offer a wealth of degree options today, allowing students to hone their career path to a very precise track that brings them the highest possible level of professional satisfaction. Choices abound, but this means you must take the time to research the various options at the schools in your area to find the best academic path for your specific needs. You may also need to determine whether certification
, an associate degree or a baccalaureate
will get your foot in the door for your next dream job.
Read a Guidebook
Prepare for Placement Examinations
Consider School Choices
Check Out the EOC
The U.S. Department of Education Educational Opportunity Center
(EOC) offers a number of services to college students. Some of the services include academic and personal counseling, career workshops and information about financial aid
. According to the Huffington Post, there are offices throughout the U.S. college students can contact to find out what might be available.
Explore Transfer Agreements
Many community colleges feature transfer agreements with four-year schools
in the area to ensure students wishing to pursue a four-year degree can make a seamless transition from one school to the next. If your career-change may include a baccalaureate degree, it is important to begin your studies at a community college that has such a transfer agreement. This way, you can rest assured the credits you earn at the community college will transfer to the four-year institution.
Practice Time Management
It can be challenging for adult students to balance coursework around family and professional responsibilities. Before you ever enroll in your first college class, have a plan in mind of how you will make time for your studies. If necessary, take a time management course or consider flexible class hours, such as online courses, that make it easier for you to walk the tightrope between your career goals and your current obligations.
Examine Financial Aid Opportunities
Many adults seeking a career change have lost their current job due to layoffs or outsourcing. If this is you, even the lower tuition rates at a community college can seem out of reach. There are numerous financial aid options for adult students returning to school – as long as you know where to look. According to an article at Monster
, nearly half of all community college students receive some type of financial aid. Talk to an advisor at the school you choose about possible financial aid opportunities
Go For It!
Once you have taken the time to research your options in a school and a degree program, it’s time to take the career-change plunge. The first step on campus may be the hardest, but once you get into a few classes and ramp up to speed on college coursework, your efforts can reap big rewards. It is never too late to make the career change you have always dreamed about. With a wealth of options available at community colleges today, your next big career step may only be a few semesters away!