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Going Back to School as an Adult - Overcoming Your Fears

by Jared Newnam
October 6, 2016

Earning a college degree is no doubt different for adult learners than for those fresh out of high school, but being an adult learner has it benefits. At a younger age, while you may have had the benefit of more free time and less responsibility, you might have been less confident about what you wanted for your future and career. As an adult learner, you likely have more defined career goals accompanied by real-world and on-the-job skills and experience to rely on--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, stop and remember the following tips and information to remind yourself that you can achieve your academic goals.

Fear #1: I Don’t Have Room in My Schedule

For many adults, work, family and other obligations can make for a busy schedule. With the right amount of planning however, you can find time to fit school into your daily or weekly routine. When talking with school representatives, ask how many hours you can expect to spend in class and doing class work each week and if there is a set, regular schedule to assignments such as with many online programs. Then, create a plan for how to divide your time each day by looking through your schedule and seeing where you have opportunities. 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, talk to your friends and family and see how they can help support you while you’re working towards your degree. Anything from babysitting, chores around the house or planning meals can help free up your time for school work. Their emotional support can be just as valuable in helping to keep you motivated.

If earning your undergraduate or graduate degree could enhance your current career, share your plans with your employer. 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.

Fear #2: I’m out of Practice Being a Student

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 and resources that will be readily available to help 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. Once you start, keep in mind it may take you a few weeks or courses to feel comfortable writing papers, conducting research and completing assignments again. However, once you are comfortable with the day-to-day aspects of your program, you may find that you are able to complete tasks quicker and with greater ease.

Fear 3: I’m Not Good with Computers or New Technology

Many careers require computer skills, so, while it might sound stressful, brushing up on your tech knowledge will be good for you. 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. While online programs rely on an online classroom and may potentially include digital textbooks or a mobile app, these tools are designed for ease of use for a wide variety of individuals regardless of technological expertise.

Fear 4: I’m Anxious about the Cost and Time I’ll Spend

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 connecting with alumni on Facebook or LinkedIn and speak with your manager and others in the field to understand how a degree might help you and justify your time investment. Some employers, for example, may offer a raise in salary for completing a higher level degree.

If you’re worried about the cost of degree completion, make sure you explore all options--including grants, federal financial aid, employer tuition assistance, military benefits, and scholarships from private and public organizations. If you’ve completed some college courses in the past, transferring credit from your past college experience, can help you 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, despite your fears, earning your degree as an adult can play in your favor. 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.

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5 Things to Do with Your Tax Refund

by South University
March 27, 2015

April 15th is just around the corner, and if you haven’t filed your taxes with the IRS, it’s time to get started! If you’re one of the lucky ones who will receive a tax return this year, the sooner you submit your completed paperwork, the earlier you’ll receive that much-anticipated refund. In fact, according to the IRS, 9 out of 10 refunds are processed in just 21 days.

Still deciding what to do with your tax refund? It can be highly tempting to go on a shopping spree, but consider being a bit savvy with your funds this year. Five smart and responsible uses for your money include:

1. Use the money for your college tuition or student loans

Tax Return

As a college student, you’re either making tuition payments directly to the school or your student loans are footing the bill in the interim. Get one step ahead by using your tax refund to send an advance tuition or student loan payment. This is a great way to invest in your future, by getting one step closer to paying off your education.

2. Pay down credit card debt or other large payments

Have you racked up a bit of debt? If so, you’re probably paying a significant amount of money to keep up with mounting interest expenses. Making the minimum required payment each month ensures you’ll be paying off the balance for years to come. Combat your debt head-on by putting your tax refund toward settling or at least lowering your debt, and enjoy the feeling of improving your financial health!

3. Upgrade your computer for school

Have you been thinking about a new computer for a while now? Are you constantly struggling to work with a machine that seems to be on its last legs? Use your tax refund to purchase a computer that doesn’t make it difficult to complete your assignments. (Before you buy anything, ask what student discounts may be available!) You’ll be amazed at how much stress you can avoid just by having a device that functions properly.

4. Put the funds in a savings account or retirement fund

Saving for the future may not be the wildest way to spend your tax refund, but it’s certainly a wise choice. Use this opportunity to pad an existing savings account or retirement fund, or to open a new one. It’s never too early to start preparing for the future—or even for your kids’ future. Whether you’re saving up for a specific upcoming event or looking ahead to your golden years, you’ll appreciate having that savings available when you need it.

5. Save some and use a designated portion to treat yourself

There’s nothing wrong with spending some of your tax refund at the mall, on a vacation or in any other fun manner, as long as you’re smart about it. When you get your refund, send a certain amount to your savings account before allowing yourself to have fun with the rest. This way, you treat yourself without being tempted to spend the entire amount on a whim.

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4 Tax Tips for College Students

by South University
March 11, 2015

The April 15 tax deadline will be here before you know it! Are you prepared to file on time? This may seem like yet another to-do item on your already long list, but look at the up-side—being a student may help you to increase the return on your taxes! Here are 4 key tips that can help you navigate tax time this year.

tax form

1. Make sure you have your W2s

All W2s should have been provided to you by your employer(s) by February 2, 2015. A W2 contains information related to how much you earned, as well as how much you’ve already paid in taxes through withheld funds.

2. Get all the proper forms

Tax forms for federal and state taxes are readily available for download at www.irs.gov as well as your state’s government website. Each form should also come with instructions. For federal taxes, Form 1040 is standard, but Form 1040A and Form 1040EZ are also common.

3. Don’t wait until the last minute

Avoid waiting until the night before the tax deadline to start doing your taxes. At minimum, give yourself a week to work on them a little each day. If you finish early, great – but if you need more time, you’ll have it. If you do finish early, take that extra time to check your math and make sure you completed (and signed!) everything you need to.

4. Compare education credits and deductions

Three main credits and deductions are available to those paying for their education. However, only one educational credit or deduction can be used during the tax season, so it is essential that you research all of your available credits and their benefits, then select the credit that is best for your situation. If you are paying on a student loan, don't forget that you can also deduct the interest paid up to $2,500.

Tuition and Fees tax deduction

• For qualified education expenses
• Can reduce your tax bill up to $4,000 based

Lifetime Learning Credit

• Up to $2,000 available
• You must earn less than $60,000 per year ($120,000 if married/filing jointly)
• Can be used for any post-high school education and non-degree classes taken to improve employment skills
• Can be used for tuition, fees, books, equipment and supplies
• Credit is capped at tax owed that year

American Opportunity Credit

• Up to $2,500 available
• You must earn less than $90,000 per year ($180,000 if married/filing jointly)
• Can only be used for first four years of college education
• Minimum of half time enrollment required
• Can be used for tuition, fees, books, equipment and supplies
• Up to $1,000 can still be received even if taxes are not owed


Follow these 4 tips to help you get through tax season with flying colors! Please visit www.irs.gov for more of the latest information.

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8 Scholarships that Could Help You Fund Your Education

by South University
February 17, 2015
scholarship imagery

Whether you’re a current college student or still researching schools, you’re probably excited to be preparing for your future, but perhaps you’re still trying to nail down the details of your financial plan for your education.* When you’re thinking about how to pay for school, don’t forget about scholarships! Scholarships are typically merit-based and may not have to be paid back, so there’s a big potential reward for applying to relevant scholarships.

Here are a few scholarships to get you started, but there are many more you can find across the web on sites like fastweb.com and collegeboard.com, and, sometimes, even through local and community organizations!

  1. WyzAnt College Scholarship (May 1): The $10,000 WyzAnt College Scholarship is available to students who plan to enroll in a four-year college or university between August 1, 2017 and November 1, 2017. You’ll need to submit a 300 word essay explaining how your education has empowered you.
  2. DutchCrafters Heritage Scholarship (May 1): High school seniors and undergraduate students are eligible to apply for the $500 DutchCrafters Heritage Scholarship. To qualify, you must be enrolled at an accredited institution for the entire 2015-16 school year, be a legal U.S. citizen or resident and have a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  3. 7th GotScholarship $20,000 Give Away (February 28): The 7th GotScholarship Give Away is open to all areas of study for U.S students, international students and alumni. No GPA, financial need or essay is required. The recipient of the $20,000 is chosen by random and the funds must be used for educational expenses.
  4. TeenDrive365 Video Challenge (March 16): Make a video highlighting the importance of safe driving for your chance to win $15,000 and the chance to work with a Discovery film crew to reshoot your video into a PSA for television! Second place will get you $10,000 and a behind-the-scenes trip for two to a Velocity show, the third place winner will receive $7,500 and the People’s Choice Winner gets $5,000 and a behind-the-scenes trip for two to a Velocity show.
  5. Buick Achievers Scholarship Program (February 27): Buick is awarding up to 50 renewable scholarships of a maximum of $25,000 per year — for a total of $100,000 over a four-year period. Eligible students plan to major in a course of student focusing on engineering/technology or certain design and business programs and have an interest in working in the automotive industry or a related field.
  6. Frame My Future Scholarship Contest (March 3): Enter for your chance to earn a $1,000 scholarship from DiplomaFrame.com by submitting an original, digital creation displaying how you “frame your future”. One grand prize winner will receive $1,000 scholarship, $1,000 donation check to their school and a commemorative Frame My Future frame. Additionally, four scholarship winners will receive a $1,000 scholarship and commemorative Frame My Future frame and 19 finalists will be given a Frame My Future certificate.
  7. Mometrix College Scholarships (May 22): Mometrix Test Prep is having a college essay scholarship contest, giving you the chance to win scholarships of $5,000, $2,000 and $1,000. To qualify, submit an essay of 2,000 characters or less explaining what test prep practices work best for you and why. Submissions will be posted on their site for visitors to vote on their favorites.

Don’t forget to ask about Tuition Assistance

Many companies offer tuition assistance programs, and possibly even scholarships, to help supplement the cost of higher education. If you’re working while attending school, be sure to check with your employer to see if this benefit is offered!

Learn about admissions, financial aid, and more at South University today.

*Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

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Finding Scholarships: 4 Places to Get Started

by South University, Online Programs
May 19, 2014

If you're thinking of furthering your education (or you’ve already started work on your degree), you've probably considered the financial investment required. Hopefully, you’ve thought about your options, including student loans and federal financial aid, which typically involve repayment and interest. The good news is that there is another option that doesn’t involve either—scholarships.

Scholarship piggy bank

To receive a scholarship, you must meet certain criteria set forth by an individual or organization. Doesn’t sound so hard, right? Yet, with so many scholarship opportunities out there, you may not know where to begin. Here are 4 places where you can get your search started right now.

1. The Educational Institution

Many institutions award merit-based scholarships to students who've shown achievement in areas like academics, personal conduct, or military or community service. Current South University students can speak with their Finance and Academic Counselors to find out if any scholarships might be available to them. If you’re interested in attending South University, you can always call us at 1-888-444-3404 to learn more about your financial options, including scholarships.

2. Employers or Professional Groups

In some cases, your employer (or even your spouse’s employer) may be willing to sponsor a portion or all of your education, so don’t forget to ask your supervisor or Human Resources department what resources are available to you. In addition, some professional organizations may provide scholarships to those pursuing specific career paths. Search for organizations that match your career interests and see if any of them help students like you in continuing your education.

3. Your Community

Local community organizations, including civic groups and churches, may provide scholarships to students who meet specific criteria. Some scholarships are only available to residents of specific cities or countries, which can drastically help your odds of receiving the scholarship. Don’t hesitate to call around and find out what’s available!

4. Online

You can locate a wide variety of student-specific scholarships online, which could require you meet criteria that involves family history, ethnicity, or other similar factors. It's easy to find these scholarships at websites such as

Scholarships.com
Fastweb.com
Collegescholarships.org

As a current South University student, you can also use our financial literacy resource iGrad, which includes a Scholarship Center. Remember, locating a scholarship, or information about one, should never cost you anything. If any website asks you to pay for information, click out of it and into one of the resources named above.

South University is not responsible for the content or accuracy of any web site linked to this site. The links are provided for your information and convenience only. South University does not endorse, support or sponsor the content of any linked Web sites. If you access or use any third party Web sites linked to South University Web site, you do so at your own risk. South University makes no representation or warranty that any other Web site is free from viruses, worms or other software that may have a destructive nature.
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