“I don’t know how to apply to college, or even where I want to go.”
Begin by signing up with a Southwest TN Reconnect advisor. Learn what Tennessee has to offer you as an adult learner. There is plenty of good advice available and your Southwest TN Reconnect advisor will help you navigate through it. Make it fun, like shopping for a new life!
“I already have a good job, so I’m good.”
Even if you are currently satisfied with your career, a degree can open up new doors for promotion and increase your earning potential. We are here to help you build upon your previous experiences and knowledge so you can earn a degree in a way that best fits your needs. Competition for high paying, stable jobs is increasing. You already have the experience, but combined with education- you will now have the knowledge, skills and the motivation that employers seek.
“I don’t know anything about higher education. It just feels too overwhelming.”
Here is where Southwest TN Reconnect advisors go to work. Advisors will help you explore your options. They have information on schools in the area as well as degree requirements for local industries and positions. They can help you connect to community resources to help you with financial aid, transportation, childcare, etc.
“I have a bunch of questions and I don’t know who to ask.”
You are in the right place. The focus of Southwest TN Reconnect is to help you find the answers to your questions. Together we can explore community options and build a plan just right for you.
The first step is probably the hardest, but it is possible. We will be there for you every step of the way until you graduate! We are committed to helping you find flexible options that fit your needs and supporting you through to completion. We recognize more so now than ever the importance of a postsecondary credential to earning higher wages and opening up career opportunities.
“No one else in my family has ever gone to college, so I don’t need to.”
How exciting to lead the way in your family! Your decision to go back to college will positively impact your family for years to come. The work place has and is changing. A degree is a valuable tool for success. It can be hard to be the first in your family but with the support of your Southwest TN Reconnect advisor, you will make it.
“School won’t fit into my schedule.”
Juggling a schedule is something we all do. Times are changing, classes are now available in the evenings, on Saturdays and even online. Time management is a skill that executives look for when interviewing. Southwest TN Reconnect will help you develop your time management skills. They will also work with you to develop a support system of friends and family who will help keep you on track. Once you’ve chosen a school, the admissions counselors at the higher education institution you chose will help to create the schedule that works best for you. There has never been a better time for adults in Tennessee to complete a certificate or degree. Tennessee institutions have a variety of flexible degree options and many are focused on supporting adult learners. Employers are also looking for individuals who can demonstrate concrete skills for their higher paying positions.
“I’m too old to go to school.”
The majority of college students across the nation are considered ‘non-traditional’ students. Your classroom will be filled with students just like you who have decided to get a degree for a changing workplace. It is important to continue to change and grow as we move through life.
“I work a full-time job, so there’s no way I could go to college, too. “
More and more employers are encouraging their employees to go back to school. Many offer flexible hours or financial assistance. Check with your company Human Resource officer to see if this is available to you. Evening and online classes are available. Yes, it will be hard to work and go to school but what is it that athletes say, “No pain, no gain”?
“It’s too hard to go to school now that I have kids. “
Education can become a family activity. Your kids will love sitting down at night and doing homework with you. You will be modeling for them the importance of doing your best and preparing for the future. Let your children see how you value education. Your Southwest TN Reconnect counselor can help you work through the challenge of childcare during classes. Often friends or family are more than willing to help out when they see you are pursuing this goal.
“I don’t have time to go to school for four years. “
There are many awesome jobs that you can get with a certificate, a technical or two-year degree. Others may take longer. But we can’t say it any better than Phillip: “Going back at 31 and wondering how to balance full-time work, a family and studying for school was overwhelming. I thought, ‘To get a four-year degree at this pace, I will be 40 or older before it’s over!’ Someone told me this and it still sticks with me: ‘You’ll turn 40 with or without a degree anyway!” The important thing is to keep your eye on the goal. Graduation will be one of the greatest days of your life!
“I’m too old.”
Many adults report feeling like they may be too old to go back to school. But 1 out of 4 undergraduate college students at our Tennessee public institutions are adult learners! You are not alone and we will make sure you connect with a support system of peer adult learners. With age, comes wisdom. Focus on the skills that life has taught you and that will help you get your degree: time management, perseverance, work ethic, etc. “Reconnect” students often blow the curve for those traditional students who have not yet learned to focus.
“I’m afraid I’ll fail.”
Failure to get a degree is a sure thing unless you try. Your Southwest TN Reconnect coach will help you find the resources you need to be a success. The basic keys to success are: go to class, pay attention, and do the homework. You will find that instructors as well as fellow students all want you to succeed and will be willing to help when it is needed.
“I never planned to go to school, so I’m probably not qualified to get in. “
How about let’s check and see? Once you see what you need to get in, start there. The admission office at your school will work with you. They are there to get you admitted into school, not keep you out.
“I won’t fit in.”
More than 3 million higher education students are over the age of 35, and nearly 10 million are over the age of 22* Like you, many students will be juggling work, home and school. Your Southwest TN Reconnect counselor will help you build a network of support.
*According to the National Center for Education Statistics
“I’m not smart enough.”
I’ve heard it said, “90 percent of genius is hard work”. If you are willing to put in the time you can reach your goal. Most campuses have centers to help you sharpening up your skills and learn new technology. The fact that you are looking at this site shows you are smart enough to know that the workforce is changing and you want to change with it.
“There are so many financial aid options, I don’t know where to start.”
No one knows the details for all the financial aid available but together we can find out! Step one is to complete a FAFSA form. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Your Southwest TN Reconnect advisor will be happy to work through this application with you. Whatever school you choose, they will have a financial aid office to help you acquire the necessary funds.
“I won’t qualify for financial aid because I’m not a top student.”
Scholarships and financial aid are not just for top students. Nearly 80 percent of all students receive some type of financial aid. The state of Tennessee is committed to helping you reconnect and get your degree.
“College costs too much money – money I don’t have. “
Yes, college does cost money but when you pay for college you are investing in yourself. There are federal, state, and institutional funds available. We will work with you to find available funds. Many employers also have programs to help pay for you furthering your education.
It may seem obvious that college graduates make more than those who only complete high school, but it’s significant! Over a life-time of earnings, college graduates on average earn more than a million dollars than their high school counterparts.
Think of college as an investment in not only your future, but your family’s future. It may cost you time and money in the short-term, but the long-term benefits are worth it.
“Getting financial aid takes so much work, like filling out confusing forms and keeping up with paperwork. I’ll screw it up. “
Most financial aid forms look alike. Your Southwest TN Reconnect advisor will be glad to sit with you as you work through your FASFA. Once that is completed you will have gathered the information needed to complete most other financial aid forms that you need. Every school has Financial Aid Officers who will also help you with this process.
” I should find the school with the lowest price because that’ll be the most affordable. “
That seems to be logical but it is not always correct. Many expensive universities have significant amounts of their own scholarship funds available for students. Choose your school based on your educational goals and then explore the options available. You may be surprised at what you find.
“I have friends who dropped out. They seem fine.”
The market place is always changing. A degree is your tool to be able to change with it. Work experience coupled with a degree opens up worlds of opportunities that aren’t available otherwise. Your return to school may the inspiration they need to do the same. A postsecondary education also reaps benefits beyond increased wages. College graduates report having motivating jobs, enjoying their work, and gaining confidence. People with college degrees are also more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices such as exercising more and avoiding smoking. These are habits that can make a significant difference in your general well-being.
“It’s too hard! I don’t think I can do what will be asked of me. “
The only certain way to fail is to never try. If you haven’t been to school in a while you know things have changed and the unknown can be daunting. Your Southwest TN Reconnect counselor will be there with you each step of the way. Remember you will be laying the foundation for your life. It will be work but you won’t be alone. Family, friends and classmates will all be there to help you and cheer you on.
“Nobody in my family went to school. Why should I?”
Every parent’s dream is for their children to surpass them in achievement. Being the only one just means you are the first. When you earn your degree, you are also impacting the next generation. They will be encouraged by your success and you will be able to mentor them as they begin their own college career. One of the most significant predictors of a child completing postsecondary education is the educational attainment level of their parents.
“School looks really boring. I just want to get a job instead.”
Maybe attending class and taking a exams doesn’t appeal to you but I bet this does. In 2013, the average annual income for those with a college degree was $48,500, but people with a high school degree made only $24k* Keep your eye on the goal. This is the start of a new life.
*According to the National Center for Education Statistics
“I have a bunch of questions and I don’t know who to ask.”
You have already started finding the answers to your questions by coming to this site. Your Southwest TN Reconnect coach is a great resource for questions. They may not know the answer but they will help you connect with someone who does. All schools have admission counselors who will answer your questions and even give you answers to questions you don’t know to ask.