When you are looking at furthering your education or returning to higher education, you may find you have lots of questions. Even if you have only recently left a period of studying, you may still struggle to adapt to studying and juggling life commitments. The sooner that you can get answers to your questions and queries, then the sooner you can positively work on your education. So, just what key areas should you be focusing on at this moment in time?
Giving Yourself Time to Research
Before jumping into furthering your education, it is important to give yourself time. Time to research the programs on offer and the costs involved is essential. If you simply select the first program you see, then you may end up disappointed. Study what is on offer, and weigh up the pros and cons of what you want to do and why. Give yourself weeks or months to research this decision and not just days. Putting yourself under too much stress and pressure may mean you make the wrong decision.
What Are Your Goals, Aims, and Objectives?
Goals and objective setting will always be useful when you are studying. So, why do you want to further your education, and just what are you hoping to get out of advancing and furthering your studies? For instance, are you looking at stepping into a new role or career? Or are you looking at moving up the career ladder that you are currently on? Establishing objectives and even short-term aims early on will give you purpose and a sense of direction. If you simply jump into starting education without knowing your reasons, then you may be left feeling confused and misguided. Assess what you want in the longer term and in the short term too, and from here, you will gain purpose and direction. Setting out just a few goals and objectives to work towards will help you progress in the right direction (and at a pace that you’re comfortable with).
Do You Want to Study Online or Offline and Campus-Based?
After deciding just what you want to get out of advancing your education, you then must turn your efforts to decide when and where you will study. If you wish to carry on with your role or position, then you may wish to look at studying with an online provider or for an online program. Online programs can give you the qualification and knowledge you are craving – but at a time and pace that is suitable for you and your life. Whereas offline learning (such as campus-based learning) can give you a greater social element, it can also be much more restrictive too. Deciding how you see yourself studying will help you see which option is best for you. If you are struggling to make a clear-cut decision, then try and make a list for each option, weighing up the pros and cons on offer.
What Level of Education Are You Pursuing?
The level of education that you wish to pursue should never be overlooked. If you do not establish what you want to study and at what level, then you may find that you are underachieving and simply not pushing yourself hard enough. So, with this in mind, are you looking at advancing your studies by studying for a master’s? Or, are you looking to make a career switch which would mean looking at a bachelor’s level? The level of education that you are pursuing will also help you narrow down a subject or area of study. If there is a certain career or role you have your sights set on, then you should look at what the minimum requirements are early on to avoid disappointment.
The Quality and Content of the Programs on Offer
Now that you have established what level you want to be pursuing, you must then start to break down the content on offer. The quality and content on offer within a program will vary, and this is why you need to look at the specifics involved. For example, if you wish to pursue a mental health career, you will want to click here to look at what an online masters in mental health counseling will give you. When you do this, you can then be sure of what you will be studying and what areas you will be focusing on. No two programs offer the same content, and this is why you should scrutinize what is on offer (and where). Being in control of what you study and why will help you get the most out of your education.
Where You Wish to Study
Narrowing down a program to study is often easier to do when you know where you want to study. Program providers can vary in quality and in content (just like programs can) – so be mindful of this. When it comes to choosing where you want to study, you must start by thinking about what is essential. For instance, is it essential that the educational provider is accredited? Is it beneficial that they offer payment programs? Or are you looking for a provider that gives you the flexibility to study online at a time to suit you? Narrowing down what is on your shortlist is much easier to do when you know what must-haves you are going for. Without breaking down what you want, you will find that you waste too much time comparing providers. You may also find it beneficial to reach out to those around you (including colleagues and friends) as they may have useful insights they wish to impart to you about providers they have used or seen.
Support Offered By Providers
Once you have narrowed down the list of providers, you must now look at the support that is offered. Whether you are studying for one year or for longer, you want to know that you have support and guidance readily to hand. Approach providers, reach out to them, and see what they offer. If you feel they are not inclusive or approachable in the initial inquiry, then think about how they may be when you are a student with them. Support offered by providers can come in many guises. For example, it could be some support with extra studying or exam preparation. Or, it could be extra support with finding a role after finishing your studies. Knowing what type of support you may need and expect will help you find the right provider for your needs.
Entrance Requirements and Success Rates
Not all educational providers have the same entrance requirements, and not all of them have the same success rates either. Establishing both the entrance requirements and the success rates early on in your search will prove advantageous. If a provider seems nervous or hesitant about sharing success rates and figures with you, then think about what they may be hiding. Similarly, if the numbers are nowhere to be found (After searching), consider eliminating the provider completely. Entrance requirements may also vary by state, so be sure that you meet the requirements before you get your hopes up.
Your Existing Commitments
After selecting a provider and program, it is time to get even more serious. Even though you may wish to commit all of your time and energy to your studies, you may find this difficult (or virtually impossible). This could be because you have existing commitments, or it could be because you have to carry on working even while studying. Being realistic about what your existing commitments are is important. If you do not lay out what you have (and what needs doing), then realistically, you could end up overstretching yourself. Taking time out to look at your existing commitments is essential, and once you have done this, you will know how much time you have to work with moving forwards.
Career Goals and Plans
Plans and goals for your career may be one of the furthest things on your mind right now – however, they shouldn’t be. Setting and aligning career goals and plans with your studying will help you realize your potential and your ambition. If you fail to set career goals, you may find that you never fully utilize or apply your advanced education as much as you could (and as much as you should). Of course, career goals and plans are not set in stone. They can be as fluid as you like. Having them will just help give you that added bit of vision and focus.
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