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Should you or your spouse go back to college?
One of the best things you can do for your marriage is to go back to school. Whether or not you earn a college degree, your marriage can benefit from the potential improvement in earning power as well as the intellectual stimulation. Both will ward off two of the most common marital issues: financial problems and boredom.
Sometimes, we talk ourselves out of taking the next step because of the following common myths:
Myths #1: Iím too old to learn!
College is no longer for fresh-faced high school graduates. In fact, today gray hair is just as common among the student body as it is among the faculty. I dye my hair so that wasnít a problem, but I was worried that my brain wouldnít be as sharp. After all, stress and sleep deprivation during child-rearing years had taken a toll.
But what I lacked in speedy recall, I gained in depth of thought. Older students have more life experiences to drawn upon for relating to the curriculum. In education terms, itís called ďscaffoldingĒ and humans learn easier and better when new knowledge is built upon what one already knows.
I was a better student the next time around. Straight out of high school, I was easily distracted by my freedom. And as a journalism major, I naively felt dubious about having to earn good grades (ďWho cares what your grades? Itís your clips that matter,Ē I thought naively.) When I earned my masterís as a mature adult, my GPA was a 3.95, and it would have been a 4.0 if not for a critical absence!
Not only are you never too old to learn, you must continually learn in order to maintain a healthy brain! You donít need to get straight As. You wonít be grounded by your parents. Just learn something you didnít know before.
Myth #2: I donít have time
Carefully keep track of how your day is spent and youíll find that there are many minutes that add up to hours that get whiled away in non-thinking activities like watching television, reading junk, talking on the phone or surfing on the Internet.
A mother I know has nine children, one of which is only three months old. Yes, she is earning her college degree. Sheís busy, no doubt, but her class demands donít stress her as much as offer her a much-needed distraction from the diapers, feedings and fusses. The studying gets tucked into her schedule, in between homework help and rides to soccer games. ďThe kids always come first,Ē she said. ďIt isnít easy to have constant interruptions but I feel good knowing that the time isnít being wasted watching TV or something like that.Ē
All colleges now offer part-time programs for working students. Many feature distance learning in online environments or a combination of in-class and online classes.
Myth #3: I canít afford it!
In this economy, can you afford not to increase your edge over the competition? Many people have found the need to learn a new career entirely. Donít let fundingóor lack of-- get in the way. There are too many resources to list here so be sure to get in touch with your collegeís financial aid department. There are government grants, loans, scholarships and payment plans to help you get back to class.
The benefits of going back
Career advancement-Getting a college degree can help you advance in your current company. Some companies offer tuition reimbursement programs, too. Teachers, for example, bump up to a higher level of pay when they receive their masterís and PhDís or when they accrue additional college units. Another sister of mine, who has an administrative position, will be eligible for a promotion and pay increase when she completes her degree.
Second career or retirement job-After years in the same industry, more people are taking the opportunity to switch careers. Whether early or late in life, a career change can mean working in job better suited to you or one youíve always dreamed of trying. Some colleges offer complete certificate programs for your new career through their Extended Education programs.
Enrichment-You donít need to earn a degree when you go to college. Just enroll in single classes or workshops. Emeritus programs can be free of cost (although youíll have to defer to paying students if there is impacted enrollment). Extended education classes offer special certificate programs in a variety of disciplines. To participate, you donít need to register in the regular college program, which means no SAT/grade requirements to meet.
Other matters to consider
Private vs. public-Private schools can offer superior education and/or a quick pace to graduation, but it comes at a price. Public schools can offer the same but at a slower pace and lower price. Itís important for you to check out the reputation of your potential school and balance the rest of the factors according to what is most important to you.
Online options-If youíll have a problem getting to a classroom on a regular basis, you might consider a college with online options. However, virtual education is still in its neophyte stage and there are few regulations and standards for online colleges to meet. Although this is changing and more online colleges can provide suitable education, they donít always garner the respect they deserve when compared to other colleges on our resume. Now, private and public colleges offer more online access, too.
Some people might believe that going back to school will put added pressure on marriage due to the time that gets diverted from the relationship to academics. But it isnít hard to strike a balance. Share your newfound knowledge with each other to add interest to your conversations. Help with homework. Attend together if you can. I encourage you to visit the BellaOnline Education site and forum, as well as your local college, to inquire more about your options. The benefits of continuing education for your marriage may surprise you.
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