I must admit. I was slightly terrified.
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For about a decade now, I have been talking about going to college. Always feeling that my life was not organized enough or that I wouldn’t have the time to study has kept me from doing so. I made excuse after excuse why not to go back to school. Now I know the real reason why is because I didn’t believe in myself enough to try. Going to College later in life is not as hard as it may seem, and I am now glad that I made to decision to go for it.
Then one day, I applied. And I was accepted! It’s a community college, but it’s a start. And I feel that I will get no less education from this community college than I would from any other college I could have been accepted to.
The decision to go back to school was based on the fact that nothing else in my life has worked out for me the way I have wanted it to. Therefore, I may as well try something that I have not tried before.
I am aware of the fact that I am going to amass a large amount of debt in the coming years. Although, I am confident that I will be able to deal with whatever comes my way. At 40 years old, I have moved over 30 times in my life. This also includes 3 moves across the country. I have been homeless and had to live out of my car. I’ve changed professions, gone without work, and have had terrible luck with vehicles. It seems they are always breaking down and needing to be repaired just when I think I am about to be able to start saving some money. I am so used to disappointment, I have given up hoping for anything good in life.
Until last year, I had not even had health insurance since ??? I have not seen a dentist since I was 18 years old, and my glasses are at least 6 or 7 years old and in great need of replacing. All in all, I do not take very good care of myself or my well being. Yet, I know I’m not the only person out here that has had these struggles. Maybe if you are reading this right now, you can relate to how I am feeling.
Because nothing has ever worked out the way I have planned it, I try not to get my hopes up. I did not know for sure that I would be starting school this Winter semester. I checked my email regularly, though, and followed the instructions that were sent to me by my school. Looking back, it was actually pretty easy.
I was approved for Financial Aid, which I desperately need because there is no way I can afford to pay my way through school. Sometimes I don’t even have enough money for food and toilet paper.
At the beginning of January 2017, I started my classes. I enrolled in one Campus Course so that I could get used to going to campus and being around other people. Then, I enrolled in 3 online courses so that I could maintain my full-time employment. It seems to be a good fit for me so far.
The only thing I did not know starting out is that your Financial Aid is held for 30 days if you are a new college student. This has made my first month of school extremely challenging because you are still expected to pay for your books and supplies, only out of your own pocket.
So now, not only do I have regular daily stress, but I have added financial stress that I was not prepared for.
My advice to anyone who wants to go back to school and is living paycheck to paycheck: Make sure you have saved some money for the first month expenses that you are going to incur until your Financial Aid comes through. I would advise $500- 800 for books and supplies.
If you are interested in going to college, follow these steps:
Make A Solid Decision To Change Your Future
The decision to improve your life comes from within. There are many people around us that will influence our decisions in life. But when it comes to self-improvement, it must come from within. The decision to return to school is a huge, important, life-changing one. Take your time and weigh out your pros and cons.
If you find that you are just actually making excuses for not going back to school, I encourage you to change your mind. Life is never going to line up perfectly with what we want. We must work around our schedules and try every day to be a little bit better than the day before. Not for any reason other than to feel good about ourselves.
Take One Step At A Time
It’s normal to be anxious and nervous about all the deadlines associated with returning to school. Make sure you get started a few months before the semester starts. I started in October with the plan to start school in January. I knew that this would give me plenty of time in case I had to fill out forms, collect paperwork from High School, apply for Aid, and get my mind ready for this big change.
Apply For Financial Aid– Go to FAFSA to start your financial aid application. NOTE: You will need your prior year’s tax information to fill out this application.
Contact Your High School To Obtain Your Transcripts-If you live in the same area, you can pick up your transcripts at the school. If you have moved out of the area, you will need to have these mailed to you. If you need more information about how to obtain your transcripts please visit: How To Get Your High School Transcript
Apply To The College Of Your Choice-Visit their website and see what you need to do to Apply For College. Every college is different. Some charge a fee, some don’t. Some you will need to write a College Application Essay.
Visit The College Website-Spend as much time as you can on the college website so that you will be familiar with all the tabs. The website has everything you need to know about the institute that you are applying to including important dates for deadlines and maps of the campus.
Print Out Your Degree Requirements-This handy worksheet is going to be your planner for the next couple of years. This document tells you what classes are required to obtain the degree you are pursuing. You will use this to plan out your classes, and it will keep you on track as you progress through your college career.
Take Any Placement Testing Required-For new students, the institute must do what is called “Placement Testing”. This tells the college where to place you in regards to English and Math. You can study for these tests by using a Free College Placement Test Practice Test.
Attend Orientation-During orientation you will learn where things are on your campus, basic rules about the campus, and how to register for classes.
GO FOR IT! You are ready for your first day of class. Be sure to bring with you a notebook for taking notes. Usually, the first day of class is a day for the professor to lay down some expectations and classroom rules. He/She will likely go over what their goal is for their class to learn. They will let you know what textbooks you will need and also if additional supplies are required for the class.
If you are tight on money:
Look for books on discount websites like Ebay, Amazon, Half.com, Chegg.com, and Rakuten.com.
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