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Going Back to School as an Adult - Overcoming Your Fears

by South University
April 9, 2018

Earning a degree is no doubt different for adult learners than for those fresh out of high school, but being an adult learner has it positives. At a younger age, maybe you were less confident about what you wanted or had to delay degree completion for personal reasons. Now, you’re at a different time in your life with more defined career goals, life skills and experience—all things that will come in handy in as you pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree.

If you are looking start or finish your degree but have fears about going back to school, know that it is possible to achieve your academic goals. Below, we compare four common concerns of potential students to the realities of going back to school as an adult learner.

Myth #1: You Don’t Have Room in Your Schedule

Balancing a job, family, friends, and school won't be easy, but many before you have a found a way. With the right amount of planning, you can too. When talking with school representatives, ask how many hours you can expect to spend in class and doing class work. Then, create a plan for how to divide your time each day. Simply knowing you have a plan can go a long way.

Beyond this plan, you'll need support from those around you. Before you start classes, let your family know that they'll have to pitch in a little more while you’re in school. Then, talk with your friends about why you’re continuing your education and how much this means to you, so that they can offer emotional support and will understand if you miss the occasional get-together.

If earning your undergraduate or graduate degree could enhance your current career, share your plans with your boss. Hopefully, they’ll offer encouragement and maybe flexibility in your work schedule. (Plus, there's always the possibility of tuition assistance.) During classes, one way to save time is by relating your schoolwork to your job where possible. For example, for a class assignment, you might choose to create a business proposal that could be reused for your job.

Myth #2: You've Been Out of School Too Long

In reality, your life and work experience will likely benefit you as a student. Instructors appreciate adult learners who ask informed questions and bring real-world examples to class discussions. Besides that, if you've participated in continuing education courses, learned new software, or had to prepare for presentations at work, then you’ve already been using many of the same skills you’ll need in school.

Today, nontraditional students are becoming the norm and schools often design undergraduate and graduate degree programs with adult learners in mind. As you research schools, ask how many adult learners are currently enrolled. See if they offer an orientation class to ease you into the swing of things or provide support staff who will be readily available to answer your questions. Once you’re in school, get to know other adult learners; you can swap study and scheduling tips, and make valuable contacts for after you graduate.

Myth #3: You’re Not Skilled Enough with Computers or New Technology

Orientation classes can help you get up to speed on the software you’ll need, and schools commonly offer software tutorials, tutoring, and webinars for those who want extra training. Even in online programs, these days, online classrooms are designed with ease of use as a key goal for everyone, regardless of technological expertise. So many careers require computer skills today anyway, so, while it might sound stressful, brushing up on your tech knowledge will be good for you.

Myth #4: You Won’t be Able to Manage the Cost of Your Education

An important aspect of returning to school is knowing what return on investment to expect from your program. Tools like the government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook can offer helpful details about the value of education in specific fields. Beyond this, try finding programmatic alumni stories and talking to your manager and others in the field to understand how a degree might help you.

If you’re worried about the cost of degree completion, make sure you explore all options—including federal financial aid, employer tuition assistance, military benefits, and scholarships from private and public organizations. By transferring credit from past college experience, you may be able to save time and money. As you narrow in on your top schools, take the time to talk to their finance counselors about transferring credit and other options for making a degree program more affordable.

Moving Forward with Confidence

Remember, age can play in your favor when going back to school. Life and work experience often teach lessons and skills that young students rarely possess, things like time management and not being afraid to seek help when it’s needed. As an adult, you’re likely more organized, responsible, and motivated to get your degree.

Along with offering a full array of academic resources and dedicated support staff for every student, South University's campus and online programs are designed to accommodate the schedules of busy, working adults. To learn more about how we support adult learners across all undergraduate and graduate degree programs, contact us today.

Note: This blog was originally published October 6, 2016 and updated April 9, 2018.

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5 Healthcare Degrees and Career Paths Outside Nursing

by Jared Newnam
January 24, 2017

A career in healthcare isn’t only for nurses or doctors. With the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) expecting the creation of 2.3 million healthcare jobs between 2014 and 2024, you have many options for pursuing a career in healthcare. If you’re drawn to helping others and bettering your community but practicing medicine isn’t for you, below are five healthcare degrees that can prepare you for other rewarding healthcare jobs.

1. Public Health Degree

With a public health degree you can prepare for a career where you work to improve health across local, national, and global communities and to make a large-scale impact on the world.

Public health career options are diverse, with opportunities to conduct disease research, influence legislative and social policy, solve health-related problems, and develop and lead programs that promote healthy lifestyles and teach disease prevention. Job growth and salaries in the field likewise vary, according to the BLS. For example, job growth for epidemiologists (who research diseases) is projected at 6%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, whereas health educators and community health workers can expect higher job growth at 13%. In 2015, epidemiologists saw a median annual wage of $69,450, with health educators at $51,960 and community health workers at $36,300.

While a Bachelor of Science in Public Health can help you to get started in this field, some public health occupations require a Master of Public Health degree.

2. Healthcare Management Degree

Healthcare managers plan, direct, and coordinate healthcare services, with leadership and administrative duties that are critical to the health of institutions and individuals. To prepare you for this responsibility, healthcare management degree programs teach both industry-specific knowledge and foundational management competencies involving critical thinking, analysis, and decision-making.

According to the BLS, medical and health services management is a growing and financially rewarding field, with an above average job growth of 17% and a 2015 median annual wage of $94,500. While a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management can equip you for many positions, the BLS notes that some employers prefer individuals who also have master’s degrees.

3. Psychology Degree

Fascinated by what makes people tick? Earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology is the first step toward a career in psychology, or the scientific study of what drives human behavior. A bachelor’s psychology degree can prepare for you for entry-level positions in psychology—like counselor aide, therapeutic assistant, career advisor, or caseworker—or for continuing on to graduate school. Other jobs, such as psychologist or clinical counselor, require advance studies beyond an undergraduate psychology degree.

While a psychology degree can lead to many careers, the BLS predicts a 19% job growth for psychologists and reported a 2015 median annual salary of $72,580 for this position.

4. Physical Therapist Assistant Degree

A physical therapist assistant career allows you to work one-on-one with patients under a physical therapist’s supervision. In this role, you would support and train patients with therapy exercises and activities, treat patients using special equipment and procedures, and report on patient progress as you help guide them back to health.

Beyond enjoying a fulfilling career, physical therapist assistants can expect to be in demand, with the BLS projecting an impressive 41% employment growth. In terms of median annual salary, physical therapists assistants brought in $55,170 in 2015. To pursue this career, you’ll need to complete an Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant degree program and fulfill state licensing requirements.

5. Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree

While physical therapy assistants typically focus on patients recovering from injuries, occupational therapy assistants specialize in helping patients build and recover skills required for daily life. Work under the guidance of an occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistants may:

  • Help children with developmental disabilities become more independent
  • Assist older adults with physical and cognitive changes
  • Teach patients how to use special equipment
  • Perform patient evaluations and support ongoing patient care

The BLS also anticipates promising growth for occupational therapy assistant careers with a 43% rise in employment. In 2015, occupational therapy assistants also reported a median salary of $57,870. If you’re interested in this rapidly growing career path, earning an Associate of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree should be your first step, followed by pursuing any state licensing requirements.

Explore Your Options for Healthcare Programs at South University

With an academic tradition of excellence that’s lasted over 100 years, South University has helped to prepare thousands of students for success in the healthcare field. Here, you’ll discover over 25 campus-based and online programs that can equip you for a career in healthcare. To learn about the healthcare degrees offered in South University’s College of Health Professions, College of Nursing and Public Health, and even our College of Business (with graduate and undergraduate healthcare management degree programs), call us at 1.800.688.0932 or request information today.

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The True Value of a Bachelor's Degree

by South University, Online Programs
August 14, 2014

Wondering whether it's worth it to earn a bachelor's degree? The answer is an emphatic YES -- and the reasons may surprise you. Read on and discover 4 reasons to consider completing your bachelor's degree instead of settling for an associate's degree or high school diploma.

Graduation Cap imageYou'll up your earning potential

The age-old rumors about a bachelor's degree upping your earning potential are true. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that a person with a bachelor's degree will earn almost 1.5 times as much per week as someone with an associate's degree, and 1.7 times as much as someone who has only earned a high school diploma. Simply put, a bachelor's pays off over time.

You'll have a better chance of finding work

Sure, a bachelor's will help you earn more, but did you know it will also help you find work? The most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 1.6 more earners with associate's degrees are unemployed in the current market. When you enter the workforce with a bachelor's, you enter with a leg up.

It will open career doors

Have you ever taken a look at entry-level job listings? Most companies won't consider applicants who don't have bachelor's degrees. More and more, a bachelor's degree is perceived as an entry-level degree necessary to take your career to the next level. Make sure you're ready to enter the fray with the right degree.

You can be proud of your degree

Here's something you can't put a value on -- the feeling of true pride when you see your name on that degree. A bachelor's degree is a symbol of the hard work and effort you've put into your education. When you earn your baccalaureate degree, you're taking part in a tradition that's existed since the Middle Ages. Your degree is evidence of your commitment to learning. Earning a degree shows just how much you value education.

Whether you get a degree for its career impact, because you long to continue your education past a high school diploma or associate's degree, or just because you're passionate about learning, remember: a bachelor's degree is something worth striving for and a real educational achievement.

Request information to find out how to get started on your bachelor's degree at South University, Online Programs.

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How to Choose the Right Graduate Program for You

by South University, Online Programs
August 12, 2014

Now that you’ve decided you want to attend grad school, you’re faced with a very important decision ─ what to study? While you may be tempted to just choose the area in which you earned your undergraduate degree, that isn’t always best option. Instead, look at the big picture of your career and make a decision based on what you hope to get out of your grad school experience.

BookBelow are three common goals of graduate students. Understanding where you fit in can help you determine what program is the best choice for you!

Goal – Enhance your current career.

You’re already working in an area you enjoy, but want to gain the additional skills and knowledge needed to advance your career. Many high-level positions require a master’s degree to be considered for the job and, even if it’s not a necessity, having one can give you a competitive advantage. In this case, pursing a master’s degree in your current field may be your best option, as it will pick up precisely where your undergraduate studies left off. For example, if you’re currently employed in public service, obtaining a master’s degree in public administration is the perfect way to expand your current skillset.

Goal – Move to a related field, or work in a new way in the same field.

You want to earn a graduate degree because you strongly believe gaining knowledge in another field will complement the expertise you already have. Often times obtaining a graduate degree in an area that’s new to you is the best way to develop your skills. Combining knowledge from different programs allows you to broaden your perspective and become a more well-rounded professional. While this may be out of your comfort zone, you’ll have the opportunity to challenge yourself in new ways and emerge from the program as an extremely competitive candidate. For example, if you have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, earning an MBA could help you apply your knowledge of psychology to understanding how organizations and the individuals within them operate.

Goal – Enter a new career.

You want to make a change and you’re ready for an entirely different career path. Go for it! Pursuing a master’s degree can help you gain the necessary skills and experience to excel in a new field. Taking the initiative to head back to school for an advanced degree also shows employers that you’re dedicated to succeeding in your new endeavor. You’ll learn to blend the skills you’ve already acquired through years in the workforce with those necessary to start this exciting new chapter in your life. For example, if you’ve been working as a teacher, pursuing a master's degree in public health can allow you to put the skills you already have to work to bring positive changes to many people.

To learn about the graduate programs offered at South University, Online Programs, request information today!

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The Top 5 Reasons You Need to Go Back to School

by South University, Online Programs
December 3, 2012

School supplies

Going back to school has the potential to be one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life, but it can be difficult to wrap your mind around at times. How will you fit your education into your already hectic schedule? Before you completely dismiss the idea, review our top 5 reasons why it’s a decision you should make.

1. Online schools make it possible for you to earn a degree while in the comfort of your own home. With all these options available, choosing to go back to school is a real option for everyone.

2. Statistics show that the amount of money that a college graduate earns is over twice that of a non-graduate. By going back to school and completing your education, you have the potential to almost double your income which will in turn provide you the opportunity to do many of the things you want to do in your life, such as travel.

3. By going back to school, you can better your chances of working in a field that you enjoy. Without an education, the jobs that are available are very general.

4. You have the potential to provide a better future for your family by returning to school and completing your education. Not only can the extra income allow your family to live a better life and have less financial hardship, earning your degree is a good example to set for your children.

5. Your overall confidence has the potential to improve. Many people who have a college degree say that they are proud of their accomplishment. By returning to school, you will be able to have this pride as well.

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