Two things to think about before jumping back into school.
My wife is a brilliant professor of Sociology. She recently started the new school year and has told me how surprised she is to see how large her student rosters are. However, she knew to expect the increased class sizes because her experience told her that when the job market is bad, people often return to school.
Going back to school to complete a lost college education or attending college or vocational training for the first time is not a bad idea. In fact, we should always be looking for opportunities to improve our skill sets. Before you jump into the classroom, here are a couple of things to consider:
Why are you going to school? What is the goal you aim to achieve?
Define your educational or career goal before you enroll in classes (even “the basics” such as Freshman English or an introductory Math class). If you want to improve a skill set in your current field, you may discover specialized courses or certifications to meet your goal without a degree program.
I met an ambitious recent college grad who worked as an administrative assistant for a Human Resources firm. She liked the field and was planning to get a 2nd degree in Human Resources. I suggested she might want to consider exploring the PHR certification. She had no idea what I was talking about. I explained that there were relatively short (6-8 week) courses that offered comprehensive exposure to the field and prepared you for the Professional in Human Resources (PHR®) certification which is often desired by employers.
Our ambitious recent grad went back to work the next day and shared her new goal with her boss and several coworkers. They thought this was a fantastic idea and her boss offered to pay for the course if she passed the exam! In this case, traditional education may not have been the best course as the PHR preparatory course and exam may move her forward faster.
Are you technologically ready for school?
If you haven’t been to school in a while, things have changed! There are internet courses, hybrid courses (combining live and internet instruction), self-directed courses, and even courses supplemented by podcasts to carry with you on your mp3 player. If you have no idea what I’m talking (or writing) about, some pre-education is needed for your new education.
Are your computer skills strong enough? Can you make a basic PowerPoint presentation, for example? How comfortable are you looking for resources on the internet? If not, you may benefit from a course or two on basic computer skills. Consider taking a course at a continuing education center. There are also courses available at local libraries and offered through some community organizations. Ultimately, you should know the basic technological requirements required by the school you plan to attend. The academic counselors at the school should be able to refer you to resources as well, including some that may be available at the school itself. Your local Workforce Solutions office is another great resource if you are considering jumping back into school.
The key to beginning and maintaining a quality education is to ask lots of questions and take heed of the answers. If you don’t know something, you are there to learn so don’t be afraid to ask.
Danny Zendejas is the Hospitality Business Consultant for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. He has over eight years of experience in the hospitality industry and workforce development and is a native of San Antonio, Texas.