I remember when I finally decided to return to school after a five-year break in my education. At the time, I was a 24-year-old new wife and mother. As a full time mom, I knew that it was the perfect time for me to finish my education; the decision, however, was quite overwhelming and I needed a great amount of encouragement and drive to fight off any fears. Since that time, I have talked with many others who share or have shared similar feelings—fear, confusion, anxiety, and frustration when thinking about all things college-related. For most I have known, the decision is so overwhelming that they choose to “put it off” or give up on their goal altogether.
This is where we can come in and help others fulfill their dreams. As people who have taken all the steps to pick and apply to schools, fill out financial aid forms, talk to advisers, pick a major, and start classes, we should feel a greater responsibility to help our friends do the same. We can turn an overwhelming decision into a reachable goal for many who seek to further their education in the midst of their already busy lives. Below, you will find a few tips for helping others join us in pursuing a degree:
- Talk about your experiences. Let your friends know how you finally took action and what helped you in your journey. Offer to help your friend/family member search for schools, pick a major, and fill out applications, financial aid forms, etc. Money is one of the biggest issues for many—so show your friend how to fill out the FAFSA and find scholarships/grants on school websites!
- Share your experiences at the World Campus and help dispel any fears about online education. Make sure to help the prospective student know what schools are legitimate or not—do the credits transfer? Is it accredited? Is there a physical campus somewhere? If the answer is “no” for any of these, further research may be necessary.
- Field questions or refer your friend to a career/college counselor at Penn State, even if it is not the school of choice for the prospective student. Hopefully, your time as a student will help you to share your own fears and how experience dispelled them. For example, many believe they just don’t have time or, maybe, not enough help (tutoring, etc.). This opens a great opportunity for you to share about Penn State classes and staff, as well as how you juggle school with everything else in your life.
- Finally, I personally believe the best thing you can do for the prospective student is to keep encouraging him or her; keep asking how the application process is going and challenge this person to move forward if they are procrastinating or making excuses.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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