Feeling like your goals are just out of reach? Impatient to pursue your dreams? Wanting to make a change but feeling like you don’t know where to start? With so many flexible options available, there’s never been a better time to find a continuing education program.
The perfect CE program enables you to pursue your passions while still maintaining a balanced life. Whether you’re a full-time parent, full-time employee, or are full-time-figuring-things-out, you can enroll in a CE course that allows you the freedom you need to explore your future career.
#1 – Set Personal Goals
It may seem obvious, but before you get too involved researching specific programs, take time to set personal goals. Ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve by taking a CE course. Your answer may help guide your search for the right program.
In addition to setting goals, acknowledge other factors that influence your decision. Maybe you need a totally flexible schedule to accommodate work, or maybe consistent, weekly class-time fits best with your calendar. No matter what, go into your search armed with your own list of priorities, so it’s easier to hone in on the right program for you.
#2 – Start Research
We get it—it’s daunting to research CE programs online. With so many options claiming to be “the best of the best,” it’s hard to discern which option is the right fit.
Here are a few factors to consider as you research:
- Program overview – Are you able to clearly discern the program’s structure and goals? Once you establish a basic understanding of each unique platform, it’s easier to weed out options that don’t fit your needs.
- Completion requirements – Understanding each program’s requirements will help you imagine how the coursework will fit into your schedule. Make note of credit requirements as well as average hourly course load.
- Professors and teachers – Check out the qualifications of potential instructors. Better yet, see if you can find additional information or course reviews to assess whether you’re interested in working with a specific instructor.
#3 – Reach Out to Students and Alumni
Whether you’re looking into options for mortgage continuing education or insurance pre-licensing training, it’s important to reach out to current students and alums for their unique perspectives. Not only will they offer insight into the program itself, but they may also have helpful tips or thoughts about the field in general. Look on the program’s website to see if they have resources listed for connecting with previous students.
If possible, it’s beneficial to find a friend or relative who’s had a similar educational experience (even if it’s not the exact same program). Ask them out for coffee to chat about school! If you really want accurate information, get it from someone you trust who you know will be honest.
#4 – Assess Your Financial Standing
Going back to school can be a big investment, but some programs are a lot more expensive than others. It’s important to take stock of your finances first—that way, you won’t be disappointed when you find the perfect fit, only to realize you just don’t have the cash:
- Create a budget – Understand your monthly income and expenses and calculate how much you can reasonably afford to spend on your program.
- Research tuition costs – Compare and contrast costs across different programs. Is there a price difference based on course load? What is their fee structure like? Can you get the same experience for a cheaper price, or is the extra money worth it for better training?
- Understand assistance options – Look into grants or loans to help fund your education. Remember, you’re investing in your future! This kind of assistance might put previously unattainable programs back on the table.
#5 – Understand the Course Structure
Remote learning is becoming the new normal, so it’s helpful to fully understand the structure of your courses.
For some, in-person classes are much more effective than online alternatives, and vice versa. Essentially, factor your learning style and classroom preferences into your decision. If you find the right classroom atmosphere, you’ll be more likely to engage in class and absorb information.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks
Sometimes it’s okay to feel nervous before embarking on a new adventure. If you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you’ll be more likely to learn and expand. Embrace the unknown, and have confidence in yourself to achieve your goals—once you find the right CE program, that is!