Make a Plan

It’s important to have a plan in place when you return to school! Don’t have one yet? That’s OK! We’ll help you prepare one. Hopefully, you’ve already contacted us. If not you can do so here. Below you’ll find the steps we recommend to not only help you return to school, but succeed and finish the program in your desired timeframe!

What are your motivations? Your interests? Your skills? In order to keep your post-secondary education quick and affordable, it’s beneficial to identify a desired field of study before beginning. If you’re unsure, we can help you identify which industries are the fastest-growing in the Mid-South area or which programs work best with your busy schedule!

If you have a field that you’re passionate about, that’s great! Let’s help you find an area school or program that suits your needs! When we meet you for the first time, we’ll talk about all these things so that you are prepared for success when you begin school.

For many adults, this is the biggest hurdle in returning to school. We know that many of you have children, jobs, and commitments at home. That’s OK! Do you know that there are programs around Memphis that have night and weekend courses, online courses, and semesters that begin year-round? Whether you have responsibilities in the home or at work that prevent you from going to school during typical hours, we’ll assist you in finding a program that you can attend on your time.

Many schools offer blended curriculums, where you can attend some classes on campus and some online. As your life changes, you can change which type of classes you take! During your advising sessions with us, we’ll assess your schedule together and find the best fit for you and your busy life so that you don’t have to sacrifice time with your family or your hours at work!

Did you know that most colleges and programs accept prior learning credits from students? That’s right! The process is called Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), and it’s when schools look at your transcripts (if you’ve attended a post-secondary program before) and give you credit for classes you’ve already taken, shortening the time it takes to get your degree! Many schools also accept certification programs, job experiences, and military training as prior learning credits.

Did you have to complete a safety course in order to be employed at your job? Did you receive job training while in the military? Do you regularly write articles, edit memos, and submit reports, even though you don’t have a college degree? These are all examples of prior learning that schools will give you credit for! Some students can skip whole semesters thanks to the training they’ve received in the workplace.

Some schools also accept CLEP tests, wherein you may take an exam proving that you already have the knowledge required to opt out of some general education requirements. If you’re a fluent Spanish speaker, you may opt to take the CLEP exam for Spanish language requirements. If you pass, you no longer have to spend time or money taking a class you already have mastered!

Together, you and your advisor will gather all of these materials and see where you stand with credits already earned! Additionally, you’ll have to request transcripts from your previous educational experiences, whether at a 2-year, 4-year, or vocational school. Need some help with how to request copies of your transcripts? Here’s a guideline!

If you can’t pay for college out of pocket, you aren’t alone! Very few can afford to pay for it all at once. That’s why we’re here to help you learn about all of your options to secure financial aid to return to school.

Your first step is always to fill out a FAFSA at The FAFSA will assess your individual need for federal or state assistance to pay for school. You could be awarded grants for your specific needs or loans that you will be able to pay back over time upon graduation.

You have additional options, too! If you’re employed, your employer might reimburse you for your tuition money, either in full or partially, upon completion of each course or certification. There are also numerous scholarships available for adult learners. We can help you locate Memphis nonprofits and foundations that provide scholarships to Memphis adult learners. We can also share with you our links and resources to find scholarship money outside of Memphis. Schools offer individual scholarship awards, too. Whatever your need, we’ll point you in the right direction!

Finally, we also offer resources for those of you who have defaulted on previous student loans. We have partnered with OperationHOPE and Primerica to help adult learners with defaulted student loans get back on track and able to apply for loans once again.

Once you’ve assessed your schedule, gathered your prior learning experiences, and begun researching financial aid, it’s time to start applying for schools! Many schools require an application fee when you apply, but sometimes, they’ll waive that fee for you! When you meet with us, we’ll talk about which schools are able to do that for you.

Research all the deadlines for applications. Once you’ve made the decision to return, you don’t want a simple deadline to hold you back. Many programs offer programs that begin in March, May, and October. You’re not confined to August and January anymore!

Did you know that schools do not require ACT or SAT scores from adult learners? We’ll tell you all about that, too. It’s just one less thing holding you back from a degree!

You’ve registered with Graduate Memphis and been accepted to school, but getting a degree isn’t just about going to class. As an adult learner, you need support, resources, and assistance when you require it!

At home, create a workplace for yourself. Have a designated area where you can study and work, free from distraction, when necessary. It’s also important to have a support system in your friends and family. The choice to go back to school is a tough one, and we hope you have a spouse, friends, children, and parents who support you.

We suggest meeting your academic advisor on campus as soon as you get the chance! An academic advisor can act as a guidance counselor, keeping you on track to graduation and addressing your concerns about which classes to select. We also hope that you’ll be involved on campus, if you’re attending classes in person. Attend orientation, go to career fairs, apply for academic clubs! The more you’re involved on campus, the better you’ll do.

While you’re working toward your degree, we also hope you’ll remain in touch with your advisor at Graduate Memphis. We always enjoy keeping up with our students’ successes and hope to see you in attendance at our student success celebrations, where we celebrate your return to school! We also offer free workshops year round, where we discuss topics like communication skills, defaulted student loans, social media, and computer programs. These can be beneficial to you even after you’re well on your way to being a future graduate!

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