The Smart Way to Return to College

Data-driven evidence shows going back to school to complete a bachelor’s or earn a master’s degree as a wise investment in one’s career and a benefit to overall personal development. Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center showed how college graduates fare better in their careers and pay scale in comparison to those without a college education; a wage gap that has nearly doubled in the last 30 years.

If you’re considering returning to college, there are several smart ways to save the time it takes to earn your degree, which also saves on your tuition costs.

Your Past Can Come Back to Benefit You
Did you know you can earn college credit for your work experience and knowledge? By passing the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and Dantes Subject Standardized Test (DSST), college credits earned through prior learning assessments can be transferred to many colleges and universities.

Financial Aid and Tuition Assistance for Adult Students
Scholarships are not just for traditional students going to college from high school. They’re also available for adults, including those with full-time careers and a steady income. is an online scholarship-matching service with a database of more than 1.5 million scholarships. Simply enter your information, and Fastweb searches its database for scholarships for which you may qualify.

In the fall of 2013, she realized that it was time that she was the recipient of life architecture. Jennifer temporarily interrupted her education when she answered a calling to go to Costa Rica. She courageously gave up all of her worldly belongings to move there and live for two and a half months. It was a life changing experience where she lived in a cabina on a cafetal (coffee farm) in Sarchi. She found herself on a journey of personal growth, peeling herself like an onion and discovering an inner self that had been hidden. Jennifer’s gift to herself may be the greatest gift she ever received.

Employee Tuition Assistance and Corporate U
Many companies see employee’s continuing education as a necessary investment in their workforce to retain their organization’s competitive edge. Employers may not cover all your tuition costs, but every dollar counts. Know that you can receive tuition reimbursements of up to $5,250 tax free.

Other companies may offer what is often known as “Corporate U” or some level of workforce training. Many of these classes are accredited by the American Council on Education (ACE) and can later translate as college credits at some universities.

Assessing Your Career Needs and Goals
In a recent Computerworld article, Robert Roberto, president of Keystone Partners career management firm said, “If you have a career plan and then get the education to support it, it’s a much more effective way to go.”

As you would before entering into a new work project, take stock of the current skills and knowledge you have in comparison to what is needed for career advancement or in pivoting to a new career. Research which college and university’s course and curriculum support your vision and career goals.

The Smart Way to Calculate Your Degree Investment
Some universities may lead with low cost tuition, but will add on numerous fees, driving up the total cost of your college degree.Other universities will use a reverse tactic. Get the total cost picture before committing, calculating transfers from previous college credits and work experience, along with tuition and fees, employee reimbursements and scholarships.