Going Back to School as an Adult? This One Factor Will Help You Choose Which School to Attend

Going Back to School as an Adult? This One Factor Will Help You Choose Which School to Attend

Thinking of going back to school? Or, maybe you’ve already decided you’re going to make it happen, and now you need to choose which school to apply to, or attend. It doesn’t matter if you’re going back as an adult for undergrad or graduate school; there is ONE factor that should help you make the call. I don’t have the time or patience to write up some long post and make you wait for this one magic factor (I hate those kinds of posts)…so here is the one factor you need to consider when choosing a school:

The academic advisors and your communications with them

What?! What about the school’s ratings?! Well yes, obviously you want a school that’s highly rated, all that good stuff…but who do you think is going to help you along your education journey? Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re an adult, already have a job, maybe a family, and all kinds of factors to include into the equation of whether or not going back to school is right for you. If you can’t get someone from the school to respond to you about questions around the program, its flexibility, etc…RUN. This should be a no-brainer. Look for these three things:

  1. A real person. Are they sending you some sort of computer generated email that seems too well-worded and generic? Probably not a real person. Reply and see if they reach out again.
  2. A prompt to schedule time to chat–and take them up on it! Whether it’s a phone call or Zoom video chat, the academic advisors should be willing to talk with you about the program.
  3. Offering up a real student reference. These are totally people you want to talk to, and it’s why I’m a student ambassador for Penn State’s Online MBA program. In addition to the advisors, their responsiveness and “realness”, they should also offer up real students in the program so that you can talk with these people and ask them about their journey.

You may not get 1:1 time with professors as a prospective student, but it’s always worth it to ask (I can name a few at PSU that would be more than willing to talk to prospective students); however, ALL advisors or ambassadors of a program should be more than willing to talk with you and engage in all of your questions and concerns as a potential incoming student. If you can’t find these types of outgoing and honest people to talk to about the program, you should consider looking for an alternative program, especially if it’s one you’ll be attending as an online-only curriculum. Engagement is absolutely one of the keys to a successful online degree, and if you can’t find that at the advisor level, you likely will not have a good experience within the program.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I didn’t choose Penn State because of the academic advisors; I chose it because I’m an ’08 PSU undergrad alum. Truly, once you’re a Penn Stater, it’s hard to even consider anything else. That being said, the academic advisors and director of the program are incredible, and if I wasn’t a previous Penn Stater, I’d still have chosen Penn State due to the personal attention I’ve received as a prospective and now current student. I’m obviously a huge advocate of the program, but I realize that each person might be looking for something different. It’s so hard to even get to the point of being ready to commit to carving time out for something outside of work and family life, that if you don’t feel you have good support throughout your academic experience, you’ll have a terrible time being back in school. Honestly. So ultimately, no matter which program you choose, do your homework, and make sure you’re getting the personalized attention that you deserve as an incoming student.

Have more questions?! Feel free to email me. I’m a real person juggling what seems to be a million things here, and I’m still making this work. As a student ambassador, I’m not paid or compensated in any way for this post or any of my discussion or involvement with Penn State. I just love the school, my experiences–both undergrad and graduate–and enjoy chatting about this online MBA in particular. My PSU email is mlh357@psu.edu. I’m also taking over the PSU Online MBA Instagram Account starting tomorrow, 3/15/20-3/17/20, so feel free to tune in there and for other IG takeovers!! 

Going back to school as an adult? This one factor will help you decide which school you should attend. It's pretty simple and easy, and something that should make you feel REALLY comfortable with that program!!! #backtoschool #adulting #mba #mbaprograms #omba



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