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How To Prepare For College As A Busy Adult

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Do you have career development goals or professional interests that require continued education? Whether you’re a few credits shy of earning an undergraduate degree or wish to complete a certificate or graduate program, going to college can help you achieve your goals. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more difficult to manage as an adult as your job, family, and other obligations take up a significant amount of your time, energy, and money.

Creating A Plan For Balance

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you can’t go back to school as an adult. Although juggling your studies with other (equally important) obligations can be challenging, developing a plan can help you find balance. Continue reading for suggestions.

Educational Options (Discover What’s Required)

The first step would be to explore your educational options. The more you know about the degree or certificate you need and the methods to complete the program, the easier it is to find balance. For instance, let’s say you want to attend law school to become a practicing attorney. You’ll need to take the LSAT exam and complete applications to accredited colleges.

Evaluate how long you’ll need to study for the LSAT and whether there are resources you can use to ace the test. The research law schools and their application process. If you’re pressed for time, or there aren’t any colleges nearby, you might consider online degree programs. Distance learning can take time to adjust to, but it enables you to work on your education on a schedule that’s most convenient for your lifestyle.

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Secure Funding

You probably already know that college is expensive. However, there are many ways adults can fund their education. Review the tuition and related costs. Inquire about scholarships, stipends, or grants, from your chosen school, private and government agencies, or within your community. You should also complete the federal government’s financial aid application to see if you qualify for assistance.

If you still have an outstanding balance, consider applying for student loans. Many will allow students to postpone payments until they’ve graduated (with the option to pay accrued interest in college), giving you plenty of time to get your finances in order. You can also ask your employer if they offer tuition assistance or reimbursement. Lastly, talk to your financial aid officer about payment arrangement options to accommodate your budget.

Consider Money-Saving Strategies

Not all college students will get enough financial assistance to cover their educational endeavors. Also, if you’ve taken out a student loan or used your credit cards, you’ll need to have the means to repay them to prevent falling deep into debt. Start by reviewing your budget. How much money do you have to dedicate to your education? If tuition and related expenses are going to cause financial hardship, you’ll need to evaluate money-saving strategies.

Cutting back on unnecessary expenses like takeout, entertainment, and other leisure costs is a great starting point. Of course, there are things you need for everyday survival, like food, gas, electricity, water, and transportation. Ideas like prepping meals at home, using coupons, conservation methods, and carpooling can help you save in these areas.

Lastly, you may need to consider more substantial savings opportunities. For instance, you could relocate and find a coliving arrangement to save on rent and utilities. This example would be ideal for adults without children. What is coliving? Sometimes referred to as communal living, coliving is an arrangement where tenants share a residence. You receive a private bedroom in a lavish, fully-furnished apartment with shared living spaces such as the kitchen, living room, and other common areas. Coliving can be significantly cheaper than having your own apartment, and you can use the savings to pay for other college expenses.

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Make Schedule And Routine Adjustments

Completing your college education will require a significant amount of your time. Whether you’ve opted for online, in-person, hybrid, or part-time courses, you’ll need to make room for classes, homework, and studying. Evaluate your existing schedule and routines and adjust them to accommodate your educational needs.

For instance, you may need to block out a few hours each day to attend online classes and study. If you work and raise kids, the best time may be after dinner, once the kids are settled. Or, let’s say you used to hit the gym at noon, but now you have a class. If that’s the case, you’ll need to move your workouts to before or after you’ve finished school.

Identify Solutions For Conflicts

Some people may have no issues rearranging their schedules or routines to attend school. Others may run into conflicts that require extra thought or support to resolve. For example, if you have an evening course and kids, you may need to ask a relative, friend, or partner to babysit. If no one can assist, you’ll need to hire a babysitter and add those costs to your budget.

Other scheduling conflicts might include preparing meals or supporting your kids with everyday activities. You can use meal planning and batch cooking strategies to save time and money. As for the kids, ask loved ones to pitch in where they can. Whether your parents assist with homework or your best friend takes them to afterschool activities, it gives you time to focus on your studies.

If you’ve postponed or given up on returning to college for higher education due to your responsibilities as an adult, you may want to reconsider. As you can see above, adequate research and planning can help you develop a method that makes it easier to balance your obligations.

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