By Sam Ast, Re-Entry Workforce Development Specialist, Goodwill of Western Missouri & Eastern Kansas
This blog covers the importance of education and how it can help you to find, reach, and keep meaningful and well-paid work. We know there are a lot of questions when you start thinking about furthering your education. How should you approach going back to school? What are the benefits, and how can it help your job search? For more information, continue reading.
Why Further Your Education
Returning to school might seem challenging. Even thinking about it can be overwhelming. However, with a job market that appears to be increasingly dependent on rapidly advancing digital technologies, placing yourself in a position to learn new skills and improve your standing in a competitive labor market is one of the smartest moves you could make.
You could need a GED or high school equivalency, or you’d like to take a few college courses or enroll in a vocational training program geared toward prepping you for specific work tasks. All of these are great continuing education options. Most, if not all, jobs these days require a high school diploma at the very minimum. Placing more attention on educational attainment can equip you with the proper knowledge and credentials to enter the job market more confidently.
How to Further Your Education
To begin this process, consider what stage you are at. Most colleges and universities will want you to obtain your GED or high school diploma before applying to attend classes there. So, begin here if you don’t have this step finished. To do so, run an internet search for local GED/HiSET providers. Many colleges and nonprofit organizations will be able to help. They likely offer adult learning preparation and instruction or will know available resources and testing locations.
After this, you will choose between a two- and four-year degree plan that matches your areas of interest (i.e., business, communications, mathematics, politics, history, etc.) Up next, you will need to think about funding options.
Funding Your Education
Scholarships and financial aid are the two most prominent routes for students to pursue if they are not in a place to self-pay. From this point, you should expect to work with the financial aid office to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), after which various loan options will be compiled for you to select from each semester. You may have money left over after tuition and other fees for groceries, school supplies, rent, or other expenses. If you’re going the scholarship route or anticipate applying to an elite program or school, think deeply about how a good cover letter could set you apart from others vying for the same prize — and then start writing.
Two- and four-year college paths are not the best idea for everyone. It may be more beneficial for you to attend a trade school to get a highly skilled and well-paid job relatively quickly. The curriculum here would be more job-specific (HVAC, auto mechanics, plumbing, electric, construction, etc.) To do this path, start working with local educational institutions or Goodwill® career coaches. You can also run your search online to find vocational training opportunities and research available payment methods.
Good Luck Continuing Your Education
Take your future learning experience seriously, but still have fun while you make informed choices about your interests, career field, training, financial aid, and scholarships. I can’t see a reason not to wish you good luck and encourage you to look into continuing your education!