9 Common Roadblocks to Returning to School

Dawn Papandrea | June 21, 2010

How long has the back-to-school dream been on the back burner of your brain? My husband, for one, has been talking about getting his Ph.D. for the last 10 years, and I’m still thinking about pursuing a master’s degree. What’s stopping us from achieving our goals? What’s stopping you?

Check out some of the most common reasons why people put their school dreams on hold, and see if you can relate:

“I can’t afford it.”
Ever heard of scholarships, loans, tuition assistance and reimbursement, and tax credits? All of these can help you foot your education bill. Plus, with the help of higher education, you may qualify for a better position with higher pay and get a quick return on your investment.

“I need to be home to watch my kids/parents/dogs.”
This is where a little thing called online education comes in handy. When you enroll in online courses, you never even have to leave your house.

“I’m not up-to-date on the latest technology.”
It’s true that the last 10 years have brought about a lot of changes in educational media – laptops, smart phones, podcasts… But most schools offer introductory technology and refresher courses to bring you up to speed on the digital age.

“I’m too old.”
Haven’t you heard about the 80- and 90-year-olds who are earning their degrees? If they can do it, so can you.

“I don’t remember how to study.”
Today’s colleges offer oodles of student services, including tutoring, study skills, and time management. Even if you never knew how to study in the first place, it’s not too late to lay a new education foundation.

“I don’t want to go to school with teenagers.”
Neither do I. Fortunately, we don’t have to. With so many working adults going back to school these days, you don’t have to worry about being in the minority in terms of your age and your motivation. We’ll be in it together.

“I don’t want to miss time with my family.”
It’s a fact: your commitment to school will take time away from your family. But quality time trumps quantity, doesn’t it? And as you work hard to achieve your goals, you’ll be teaching invaluable life lessons to your kids.

“I don’t have the time.”
Have you ever noticed that the more deadlines you have in a given day, the more you get done? When you have a lot to do, you find a way to make every minute count. And once you make it through a semester, you’ll wonder what you ever did with your time before.

“I’m afraid I won’t succeed.”
You’re not the only one. It’s normal to fear failure, to fear the unknown. But if you don’t try, you’ll never find out how much you can accomplish when you work hard and commit to achieving your goals. And if you do fall on your face, remember that you’re a big girl (or boy) – you can get up and give it another go.

Are you out of excuses yet? I am…

-Robyn Tellefsen

The Culinary Trust Announces Scholarships

Lori Johnston | February 17, 2010

If Oscar nominee Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” has you considering the culinary industry or if you’re already pursuing a degree in this field, then you may be hungry for news of scholarships.

Check this out: The Culinary Trust, philanthropic partner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, is offering 24 scholarships valued at nearly $150,000 for the 2010-2011 academic year. It is accepting scholarship applications for formal culinary education and independent study and research, through March 1.

Donors include top culinary institutes such as Le Cordon Bleu campuses around the world, The Culinary Institute of America, The Institute of Culinary Education, and The Italian Culinary Academy.

The qualifications include: merit, culinary goals, skills, and references.

So what else do you need to know?

  • The scholarships are for those seeking vocational, associate or bachelor’s degrees.
  • You don’t need food service experience unless that’s required for admission to the program, if pursuing those degrees.
  • If you’re pursuing a continuing education and advanced degree scholarship, you need two years of industry experience.
  • You will need to write a two-page essay with your culinary goals.
  • You must have a 3.0 GPA or higher

So do what Julia Child did and be fearless – pursue these and other scholarships and you could find the financial stress of school could be taken away. And that could be a recipe for a successful career.

Bon appetit!

-Lori Johnston

How Much Does That Degree Cost?

Dawn Papandrea | February 16, 2010

Ask most adults who are thinking of going back to school what their biggest obstacle is, and chances are most of them will tell you it’s the cost. Understandably so — tuition is expensive! And, often,  students who are going back to school are doing so at their own expense, and with the hopes that a degree will lead to better income opportunities. In short, it’s an investment, and with investments come risk.

This notion was the inspiration behind CollegeSurfing.com’s new resource section that focuses on the costs of various degree programs. You can read specifically about tuition and fees by career field or academic discipline, from nursing degrees and culinary arts training to master’s degree programs.

If you’re thinking of investing in your education in 2010, be sure to take a peek at what it’ll cost you, and whether or not you can expect financial aid help.

Are there any degree programs not included that you’d like to know more about? Let us know, and we’ll get to work on it. Good luck!

Tuition-Free Classes for Boomers

Lori Johnston | February 2, 2010

Deciding to go to college later in life can be a little bit easier, if you live in a place where the state or university may waive your tuition.

The American Council of Education found that about 60 percent of accredited degree-granting educational institutions offer tuition waivers for older adults, according to its November 2008 survey.

For example, the University of Delaware offers tuition-free classes for credit if students are 60 or older (although fees are still charged). The University of Arkansas is doing the same.

Some states have free tuition programs, too, although you need to check with your state because some have changed their plans (North Carolina, for example, ended its tuition waiver policy last year).

Alabama’s Senior Adults Scholarship Program offers free tuition to those aged 60 and over who meet admission requirements to attend public two-year colleges in the state.

FinAid.org reports that these states offer tuition waivers at public institutions: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

There is a catch – it often depends on which school, courses and degree program you are pursuing and if there’s space available for a non-paying student.

It’s also interesting to see some states and organizations trying to make it easier for older students to learn about higher education.

Here are a couple of relatively new efforts to keep in mind:

Let us know if you qualify for any of the free tuition programs, and how it’s helping your wallet. Happy tuition-free learning!

-Lori Johnston