Going Back to School

by Rachel Vilsack

While researchers quibble over exactly what percent of future jobs in Minnesota will require post-secondary training, there is no denying the data: education pays. For adults, education beyond a high school diploma leads to increased earnings and lower unemployment rates.  Are you thinking about going back to school?


What is College Readiness?

Many recent news reports point to the importance of college readiness. Essentially, do students have the skills and knowledge necessary to participate and be successful at the college level?


The term ‘college readiness’ is often applied to high school students—their performance on tests, or need for remedial class work.


  • According to a recent report by ACT, 45 percent of likely college-bound high school graduates in Minnesota met no more than two of four college readiness benchmarks in English, mathematics, reading, and science in 2012. Furthermore, students interested in high-growth career fields in Minnesota fell short of meeting college readiness benchmarks, “suggesting that they are not on the right path to take advantage of career opportunities in these high-growth fields.”
  • A significant share of surveyed Minnesota adults agreed that “high schools should be preparing almost all students to enter and succeed at some type of education after high school” according to a recent study (pdf) by the College Readiness Consortium at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Private College Council.


Are you College Ready?

College readiness is also important for adults who are considering going back to school. To make the most out of your investment, it’s important to know what careers and fields of study you’re interested in before you apply. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Take a self-assessment. Assessments help you learn your interests, skills, and strengths. Create a list of your top skills, interests, and values, and use it to explore majors and careers. It might also be useful to consider your employment-related values to help you choose careers, work environments, and industries that best fit you.
  • Research majors, fields of study, and type of degrees. Make a list of types of majors and degrees that best fit your situation. Start by looking at fields of study (majors) to learn about different programs (majors) that match you interests. Read about the different types of education credentials available to understand your options.
  • Learn about schools. Look at Minnesota programs and colleges that offer the types of majors and degrees that interest you. Don’t forget to check the admission requirements of schools that interest you; some may require admission tests.
  • Get real-life work experience. This will help you decide if particular jobs or careers are a good fit for you and if it’s worth pursuing education in those fields. This could be as simple as participating in a job shadow, finding a mentor, or volunteering with an organization.


Just remember – whether you are the parent of a student or someone who’s in career transition yourself – it’s never too late to prepare for college.


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