There are so many ways to acquire a good education and earn a living wage.
You can decide to be a full time student and work part time.
You can decide to work full time and attend college part time (I did this, taking one class at a time until I earned two different degrees).
You can attend a technical college (like Western Technical College here in La Crosse) and earn a certificate, a diploma, or an associates degree.
You can start out at a technical college and then transfer to a 4 year college (many four year colleges are now accepting technical school credits…saving you thousands of dollars!).
You can decide that you want to be trained on the job and check out what it takes to go through an apprenticeship program and become a skilled journey worker.
You can decide to enlist in the military service and have them train you. Make sure you know what you are signing up for. Read the fine print in the contract and ask questions.
And finally, you can train on the job, continuously applying for employment as you gain experience. If you love doing a job search and you are constantly looking for ways to grow and be promoted – this could work.
All of the above, are ways to acquire a skill set. Once we have a skill set; once we can say that we are knowledgeable about _______; it is at that point that we are marketable to an employer who is willing to pay us good money in order to help their company make money.
So, if you want to make a living wage and you want to have an education, but do not have a career goal yet, then visit your closest technical college and ask for their career services department. We have career assessments and trained career counselors that can help you make a career choice. When you have a career choice you have a goal. When you have a goal, then you are motivated to do what you have to do in order to reach your goal.
Some words of advice (in no particular order):
Don’t let anything stop you. If you find yourself making excuses for not getting started, realize that you are choosing to live on minimum wage.
Anyone can learn. Anyone can improve themselves. Believe in yourself.
Make sure the time is right for you – Don’t rush into something this important. If you are planning to attend college in the fall, then you need to apply for financial aid in February-May of that year right after you (or you parents) have filed their income tax return for the year. (if you are reading this and wanted to start this fall, there is nothing wrong with starting out with one class…take a career development class….that kind of class helps you make a career choice so that you can set your goals).
Many people do not understand financial aid. Applying for FAFSA (Federal Student Aid) is easier than doing your own income tax return! Go to www.fafsa.gov in order to walk through the process. You need to apply for each academic year that you attend college. One application allows you to see if you qualify for grants, loans, and even work study programs. And you can still apply for scholarships at your college that you have chosen. Keep asking until someone tells you where the folks are that can show you how to find scholarships. Every college has someone.
Remember that people love to help and every college is full of people who believe in that college and it’s success rate. Ask Questions! Get where you need to go by continuously asking questions.
Learn time management. If you can learn to manage your time and prioritize you WILL be successful. Every college has time management classes or workshops or maybe they offer a “college success” course that you could take in order to learn time management.
Attend every class and pay attention to the syllabus. In college every instructor provides a syllabus. The syllabus tells you what you are going to need to get done in order to pass the class.
Do not let the syllabus overwhelm you. Remember that you have all semester to get it all done, but you must work on each class every week so that you do not get behind. Colleges recommend that you study (study and do homework) three hours for every hour you spend in class. In my experience, I did need to do this for some classes and for others I was able to do what I needed to do in less time. I always scheduled my study time on my time management calendar, then if I did get done sooner with what I had to do, I would work ahead (that is the joy of a syllabus)…..then when life caused problems, I was less stressed about catching up.
Hopefully this helped you look at the big picture a bit? I can be reached at 608-785-9257 if you want to talk to someone about becoming a college student. 🙂