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Getting StartedGoing Back to College: Getting Started

Welcome! Going back to college as an adult can be a daunting (sometimes even scary), but very worthwhile experience. We all know that there are many talented and accomplished individuals who never went to college or for some reason or another were not able to complete their degree. For many, earning that "piece of paper" can make a significant difference in their professional or personal life (the achievement of a lifelong dream) - but the idea of returning to school after a long absence can present quite a challenge.

Often adults who are returning to school after years of not being in a classroom are apprehensive about not fitting in (for example, being thrust into a classroom with 18 to 25 year olds), taking good notes, studying, and doing well on tests. The admissions and financial aid process can be a confusing and frustrating experience. Back to College® offers a directory of resources and interactive community specifically designed to help manage these challenges, including an Ask the Experts and online discussion forum.

Browse articles on returning to school and frequently asked questions in the admissions area. Locate online courses or traditional or online degree programs, find out how to get credit for life experience, or get help deciding on a major. Confused about whether you qualify for financial aid? Learn how to apply and locate scholarships. You can also brush up on forgotten study skills and read motivational feature articles and special reports about other adults who are successfully returning to school, as well as browse a bookshelf of bestselling books and guides for the returning adult learner.

Other resources include opportunities for regional and national internships; how to buy and sell textbooks; get help with academic research and cool tools (including bibliographies with document delivery; dissertations; online journals; and special libraries). An index of information can be found on the site map or you can conduct a site search. Our resources are continually being updated - it's easy to keep informed with our free newsletter.

It doesn't matter how old you are or how long its been. You are not alone - millions of adults have done it before you. Take that first step. You will be glad you did! you did!

Here are Some Guidelines for Getting Started:

Personal Assessment: Define Your Educational Goals.
Before you can determine a career path and then select the right school, you need a personal assessment to help you clarify your interests and define your educational goals. Why do you want to go back to school? Is your goal to change careers, grow professionally, or finish a degree program started years ago? By focusing on your motivation, you can best define educational goals.

Personality and career counseling tests are available to help pinpoint interests and help you decide on a career path. If expert advice is necessary, there are many career centers which will provide assistance for a fee. Assessment tests such as the Strong Interest Inventory Assessment, the California Occupational Preference System, the Career Assessment Inventory and the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator can help you identify occupations best suited to talents and temperament. Community colleges often offer these tests free or at a low cost, but may limit these services to current students. Some of these tests are available online, and may provide professional evaluation.

Take Inventory. Are you going to college for the first time or re-entering after an absence? Determine how many prior college credits you have, including non-credit courses and any life or work experience skills. Even if the subjects don't seem applicable to a major, they might count as elective credits (see definition below) toward your degree.

Personal Assessment Tools
The Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012–13 Edition helps you find career and educational and training requirements by occupation, and provides indepth information on the chosen field as well as earnings information.

CareerOneStop shows current employment trends, career industry and profile information, and education/training needed by occupation.

For more information on personal assessment and career testing, see the Counseling and Career Planning section.

If you are still undecided, don't worry. Many students attend college for years before they decide on a major (or a primary course of study, usually about eight to twelve courses in a specific discipline). You're allowed to be undecided, and special advisors will help you select course work that will fit into various degree programs.

A minor is a secondary course of study, generally consisting of about six to eight courses in a chosen discipline area. Electives are courses outside your major and minor subject areas, while general study courses are core courses required for a degree program in a variety of subject areas. General studies requirements can vary dependent on the institution.

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