When to Go, Where to Go: Education after High School- Part One

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Would you walk into Old Navy and ask how little you can buy with $100?  

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That’s what many students do when they think about going to college. Mental energy and time are not considered as much as money.  They adopt a “hoop-jumping” approach. “Show me how little time and effort I can spend to get this degree” results in not getting their money’s worth. Education is sold as a product but is more about a process of investment.

The commercialization of college has stolen this reality. Getting a degree quickly with little effort is marketed. Fear that students will believe glib statements that college is not worth the time and money have led at times to minimizing demands. The world though emphasizes college study now more than ever.

The rampant sale of  fake diplomas and term paper mills reveals how far this delusion has grown. Some students actually think the paper document is all they really need. Or they focus on walking the stage even though they haven’t really graduated. Even worse, some employers don’t even check for false claims. For these students, it is baffling that Dave Thomas, Wendy’s founder with a net worth of $99 million,  would go back to school at 61.

(Hint: Read on to find out how adults and their children can get free college, and it’s not the Pell Grant or a sports scholarship.)

Because university demands have influenced high school education, most graduates are urged to go to college immediately. The mental energy, time and money required to succeed in college is easier to muster without a full-time job or family responsibilities. That’s why most scholarship opportunities are timed for recent graduates.

Unfortunately, that is the precise time many are clueless about why they need to go or what it will take to succeed. Up to 30% of traditional first-time freshmen flunk out the first year. But they still owe the bill. (CollegeAtlas.org).

Times have changed and institutions are trying to adjust to graduates’ changing trajectories. Online learning opens schedules for working adults. Educational assistance plans at some companies can counter tuition costs. Scholarships for single-parents, residency waivers, and other innovations have increased monies available to adult students.

Really savvy adults work at colleges where they and their children can attend for free.

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But selecting when and where to go first needs an understanding of what you are shopping for. There’s too much under the idea of “college” in most educational consumers’ ideas. Beginning with job training, “college” can cover goals ranging from broad preparation, entering another socio-economic level, to indoctrination in a belief system. But it all costs before enjoying the results.

Even worse than not knowing the ultimate goal, the non-money investment of mental energy and time may not be calculated. Companies are increasingly demanding degrees for even entry-level positions. As a result, adult students try to squeeze in coursework to try to move through a program as quickly as possible. This is the same as walking into Old Navy and asking how little you can buy for your money.

In Part Two next week, we will tour the educational landscape based on timing and type that will yield the most for you and let you in on some options you might not know about.

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