Today’s guest contributor is Zach Buckley, a freelance writer interested in exploring the intersection of culture, science, and education.
It happens every night to thousands of people across the country. You have the inextinguishable anxiety of feeling your skills need an update, but the thought of taking classes (yet again) keeps you up ‘til the early hours of the morning. When you’re not awake drenched in a cold sweat, the idea of being in a classroom pervades your dreams as an obstacle too big to face. Facing school as a “non-traditional student” can be reminiscent of an introvert trying stand-up comedy for the first time–you feel out of place and unprepared, and could probably think of a million things you would rather do.
Luckily, non-traditional students have the opportunity to choose from equally non-traditional educational routes, such as online master’s degree programs. No matter what brought you to the decision to go back to school, the following resources can help eliminate night terrors and help you feel more prepared for the formidable professional world ahead.
This is the place to go for highly reputable online courses at prices you can afford. Many courses are free, but even those that are not have a price tag from $69 to $195. And every so often, they run specials like a $49 course (usually $99) by Robin Nixon to learn HTML5 (the next frontier in web development ) in a self-paced, online class. A class like this prepares you to be there for the development jobs opening now, with the explosion of social and mobile.
Whoever says the government can’t be trusted has never been to Opportunity.gov. The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor have banded together to offer a helpful variety of resources for students who intend to go back to school to extend their education and ultimately increase their job opportunities. Opportunity.gov recognizes and addresses all of the important issues that students face during this time, including paying for courses, choosing the right institution, and understanding the requirements for certain career paths.
Adults going back to school is the fastest growing student demographic. If you can stomach the name and not be put off by it, you will find this site jam-packed with information about going back to school. Back2College.com is a virtual one-stop shop for non-traditional students to acquire everything from emotional support to expert advice to tools for finding scholarships. The website guides wary students through the process of higher education, including fun little interactive articles that allow you to answer questions about your unique study habits and academic interests—all to help get you on the right track.
Ever wanted to read an unbiased and comprehensive review of the institutions you’re considering? Collegeboard.org allows students to view a full analysis of online colleges and traditional institutions for the scoop on what to expect on enrollment. This platform makes it easy to compare potential colleges and make the best decision for your needs and preferences. One of the most unique and useful features of Collegeboard.org is a forum for students to communicate with one another about academic issues, and offer advice for a less stressful experience overall.
With the resources above at your fingertips, going back to school can be easier and more accessible–especially with the availability of flexible online institutions. No matter what your ambitions are, building up your learning can be the path to change your life and obtain the stability you crave.
Are you thinking of taking courses to freshen up your skills? Have you been doing so? Share your experiences with us in the comments.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons 2.0, giulia.forsythe.
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