When you work full time, the idea of adding in college seems impossible. It’s hard enough just to do the laundry, pay the Verizon bill, and maybe even exercise once a month or so when you’re spending 30-60 hours a week at a job.
In Netflix shows, college students are usually still teenagers. They get to revolve their lives around their classes and exams, even if their academics are just obstacles to the rambunctious parties they prioritize. If they have jobs, they are just part-time for supplemental income.
But you, you’re a responsible person. You have bills to pay, kids to raise, family to help… can college be part of your normal too?
The stats show that a large percentage of college students actually DO have more than a part-time job for earning “fun money.” In fact, at last count around 40% of college students also work at least 30 hours per week.
Working adults have 3 main roadblocks that can hinder their return to college. Can you relate with any of the challenges we discuss below?
Why it’s hard to go back to school when you work full time
Working adults face overwhelming obstacles that make college difficult. Here are three big ones:
- “I don’t have any time for studying and homework.”
- “I can’t attend classes because of my work schedule.”
- “I don’t have leftover money for tuition.”
These aren’t just excuses. They’re valid concerns that can quickly squash your college ideas. And if you also have kids, you’re probably so busy that you may never have a moment to even think about going back to college!
The good news is that there are special resources for students who juggle work responsibilities, home life, AND college studies. Life looks different for you as a college student in this season, but the options are different too.
In Mississippi, the Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program offers specific resources for adults like you. C2C has helped thousands of adults return to college and FINISH their degrees. College was in the rearview mirror for most of these students, but thanks to the free C2C program thousands have put their past credits to use and received their degrees.
We want you to have success like these students! Let’s look at possible solutions to the concerns that full-time workers face.
How to get TIME to finish college
Working adults who head back to college use strategies like these:
- Make progress even if it’s slow: take just 1-2 classes at a time. Even if you earn just 3 credits a semester by taking one class, you’re making progress! 6 credits a semester is 5% of a typical bachelor’s degree. Graduation may feel like it’s a long way off when you first return to college, but slow steady progress will get that degree into your hands before you know it.
- Don’t do the paperwork alone — get help with your degree plan & credit transfers: Studying for classes isn’t the only thing that takes time during college. Just figuring out credit transfers, class schedules, and your overall degree plan can take a lot of paperwork and research. Get help with these things, either from your college admissions counselor or another expert.
For instance, the C2C program helps students by providing C2C Coaches, who can craft a custom degree plan for you and help with credit transfers and class selection. A C2C coach can free up hours of study time, and you can be confident that they’re looking for any possible resources to help you finish college strong.
- Realize that it might take less time than you think: Often, students who return to college discover that they have more credits than they realized! Many students need just a few classes to finish their associate or bachelor’s degrees, and some students discover that they have ALL of the credits they need to complete a degree and graduate… without taking a single additional class.
Because you could have more credits than you think, it’s vital to connect with either your chosen college or another resource (like a C2C coach) to make an accurate degree plan.
- Finally: you might have to say “no” to some things for a season while you finish your college studies. You know this already… when you add something to your life, something else will need to go (hello, short nights and early mornings!). Accept this during your college season and prioritize your own health and family even while you work on finishing your degree.
You might not be caught up on all your favorite shows. Your house might be more messy than usual. You might have to ask your coworker who won yesterday’s game. But you know what? These things will all still be there for you when you walk across the stage with your degree, and your degree is something that can’t be taken away from you.
How to get TIME IN YOUR SCHEDULE to attend classes
Maybe you can make the TIME in your day, but your SCHEDULE just seems to make it impossible to attend classes. Maybe you serve in a 24/7 workplace like a medical facility, or work in retail, or pull lots of overtime and shiftwork. It feels exhausting to juggle your work schedule, let alone a school schedule too!
However, people with a stereotypical “9-5” can face this concern too… don’t classes happen during the day? Missing work to attend a class just isn’t a good option for most of us.
Thankfully, colleges have changed a lot since the last time you were in class. Almost every college offers online classes (so you can also skip the commute) and many of these classes can be done whenever you are available – you don’t have to be in your virtual class at a certain time; you can do it whenever you are available.
If you thrive with in-person classes, many schools offer evening and sometimes even weekend classes. Some schools even offer short courses that only last 8 weeks.
Having an “insider” at your college can help figure out the best classes so that your schedule won’t leave you frazzled. This could be an admissions counselor or a C2C coach.
Don’t forget to combine your work & school calendars into one. Add all of your personal, family, school, and work commitments onto one calendar so that you can see your week at a glance. It’s possible to handle an extra-busy schedule when you have clarity about what’s going on, and you’ll be done before you know it!
How to get MONEY to finish college
With prices rising everywhere, adding another expense can feel overwhelming. However, there are many options for paying for college costs. That’s why it’s vital to discover how much college would actually cost for you, instead of just assuming that it will be out of your budget.
Since you have a full-time job, it’s also a good idea to check with your employer to see if they provide any assistance toward college tuition. As of 2020, 47% of employers offered some type of tuition assistance to help their employees and team members pay for higher education. Here’s a list of prominent companies that offer tuition assistance, but you should always ask your current employer if they have any options, too.
Federal and state tuition assistance is often available, and many colleges offer financial aid options. The C2C grant is also available to thousands of Mississippi residents. It’s a $1,000 grant (which means it does NOT need to be paid back) that is renewable for every eligible semester for qualifying C2C students. The grant can even be used to pay certain student loan debts. To find out if you’re eligible for the C2C grant, complete the brief application survey.
Be sure to access other resources in your community that can make college costs more attainable. For some people, a broken radiator or a sick babysitter can bring college progress to a halt. For Mississippi residents, check the MDHS website first to see what help is available. Dialing 211 can also put you in touch with many of the resources in your community that can ease financial tensions and help you focus on FINISHING your degree.
How to go back to college: Your next steps
Hopefully you’re feeling empowered to actually go back to school now. If so, you’re ready to apply for the C2C program. Here’s what to do next:
- Complete the very brief survey to see if you qualify for C2C.
- After the survey, schedule a quick call with a C2C rep. There’s no obligation to enroll at a school or make an immediate step, but you’ll get more information about your options.
- Get started on reaching your dream of a college degree!
Your representative will help you take the next steps toward going back to college and will answer any questions you may have. If you qualify, you’ll get connected with a C2C coach, who will assess your previous credits and create a custom path for your graduation. Your coach will connect you with the resources you need to get you across the degree finish line!
The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll finish
Just thinking about finishing your degree won’t get you there, but taking a first step (and then each small step after that that) will have you on your way to the graduation stage.
C2C is the working adult’s best friend when it comes to college. As a returning learner you can access many resources to help you finish your degree while also maintaining your “employee of the month” status. Complete the quick survey today to take a step toward your degree and the brighter future it offers.