Nowadays, it seems that the topics of “continuing education” and “lifelong learning” have become very much en vogue. In order to keep up with technological developments in your field, employers are looking for employees who are personally invested in their own career-related education and development, and due to the wide variety of resources for continuing education, “lifelong learning” is no longer just a nice option for personal development. In many fields, it is a requirement for keeping your job. When choosing programs of continuing education, some choices are rather easy because they may be offered in-company by your employer. However, when it comes to choosing a program that will enable you to continue climbing the ladder in your company or field, there seem to be so many options, from certificate programs, to Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD degree programs at various institutions, both online and in-person. But which option is the best for you?
To answer this question, it is important to consider the following, in order to narrow down your options:
1) What type of qualification is necessary for keeping your current position or being promoted in your company or field (i.e., certificate, licensure, Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s Degree, etc.)?
2) Are you going to continue working full-time or part-time while studying or are you able to reduce your hours at work?
3) Do you have young children, elderly parents or any other commitments that may make the transition back to college more difficult?
4) Do you feel comfortable with a course that completely online? Or do you need some face time with professors and other students?
5) Do you live near a college or institution of education that offers courses in your field of study?
6) Are you able to fund your studies with your own income or savings, or do you need financial assistance?
7) Are you eligible for financial aid, grants or scholarships, either through a local educational institution or funded your state of residence?
8) How much time are you willing to commit to pursuing your educational goals (e.g., 2 weeks/months/years, full-time/part-time, etc.)?
Once you have answered these questions, you may be prepared to respond to the question of which program is right for you, but many of these questions also involve doing a bit of research to find the resources you need.
This article should serve as a tool for brainstorming about what types of things you may need to consider when returning to college. In the articles to come, each of these points will be explored in greater detail, in order to assist you in your decision-making process regarding your education. As is true of any transition, there will be more questions that arise as the process continues, and these questions will form the basis of subsequent articles in this series. Additionally, if you have any specific questions or comments regarding your personal choice for furthering your education, feel free to write to firstname.lastname@example.org, and your topic may be featured in a future article.
Congratulations! Your “lifelong learning” has already begun.