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The decision to go back to school can be daunting. An
adult considering a return to college is juggling multiple
responsibilities and must consider carefully how this
decision will impact career decisions, family time and
a degree? How much time and money can be saved with
past college credits and work experience? How much time
away – from work, family and social responsibilities – will be
needed for college classes and school work? With so many
options to choose from, how does someone pick a school, a
program, a degree path?
This Path to College is the first in Regis University’s Working
and prolific world of higher education.
For Adults Returning to School
PAVING YOUR OWN PATH TO COLLEGE
The world of education is in the midst of transformation. In
2005 the U.S. Department of Education reported that adult
enrollments in higher education nationally were projected
to grow by almost two million students between 2000 and
2014. Universities paid attention and those that weren’t
already offering adult education began exploring how to
meet this demand.
This is good news for the adult student. Universities with a
long tradition of educational excellence are now designing
programs specifically for adult students, taking into account
that they are returning to school in the midst of living a
busy life overflowing with responsibilities and obligations.
Professional experience is valued and leveraged, formats
are flexible and accelerated and the online classroom is
better than ever.
With all the options available, selecting a program that is a
good fit can feel as overwhelming as the decision to go back
to school in the first place. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are
some steps you can take to make sure you’re setting yourself
up for success.
Selecting a Program of Study
What sort of career path are you looking for? Are you hoping
to move up within your current field or are you looking for
a career switch? By researching the job you think you want,
whether it’s in your current field or an entirely new industry,
you can begin to understand what type of education
you’ll need, how much the job pays, and even what kind of
schedule you can expect to work.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook
(http://www.bls.gov/ooh/) is a great online tool that can
help you research jobs. Use this website to look up jobs by
industry or by specific job title and learn about the projected
growth as well as the income potential and educational
requirements needed. Narrow your search down to three or
four desirable positions that you can investigate further.
Do some real market research about positions you’ve
narrowed down. Look for openings in your area using job
search websites such as Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com,
SimplyHired.com, and LinkedIn.com. This will help you
understand what hiring companies in your area are looking
for, including education, skills and experience requirements.
Some will include the salary for that position, providing
insight into your income potential.
By now you should begin to have a good idea about what
program of study you will need to accomplish your goals.
Now you can identify the schools that offer that offer those
programs of study and begin the school selection process.
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TIP: There are hundreds of ways to name a program. If a school doesn’t offer the program you
are looking for, do they have something similar? For example:
Entrepreneurship • B.S. in Business • MBA in Strategic Management
Graduate Computer Science Degree
No code writing • M.S. Information Technology
Code writing • M.S. in Systems Engineering
or Software Engineering
• Emerging Markets (if Spanish speaking)
• Business degree with a Flexible Specialization
• Bachelor of Arts in Organization Development
• B.S. in Business with a management specialization
Graduate Human Resources
• M.S. in Organizational Leadership with a specialization
in Human Resource Management and Leadership
• Master of Nonprofit Management
• Master of Arts with a specialization in social
and global issues
Selecting a School
University accreditation is important. Accreditation
is an external review process to ensure educational
institutions are meeting standards for quality education
and services. It may also be a requisition for the career
you seek, so it’s important to confirm which university
offers your desired accreditation.
The six regional accreditation agencies are:
Middle State Association of Colleges and Schools
(Commission on Higher Education)
New England Association of Schools and
Colleges (Commission on Technical and
Career Institutions and Commission on
Institutions of Higher Education)
North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
(The Higher Learning Commission)
Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
(Commission on Colleges)
Western Association of Schools and Colleges
(Accrediting Commission for Community and
Junior Colleges and Accrediting Commission for
Senior Colleges and Universities)
National vs. Regional
Some schools have national accreditation. Unlike
regional accreditation, national accreditation isn’t
based on a school’s location but the type of school.
Traditionally, this has included technical, career and
online schools. Because of the specialized nature
of the degree earned and the curriculum at these
institutions, it is hard to compare with traditional
degree programs. Regionally-accredited schools
often do not accept credit from nationally-accredited
schools; however, nationally-accredited schools
will accept credits from schools that are regionally
or nationally accredited. For example, if you have
a bachelor’s degree that is nationally accredited, a
regionally-accredited institution may not recognize
your credits for transfer or application.
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Using a table like the
one here could help
you compare schools.
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BENEFITS University 1 University 2 University 3
Program of study
Delivery (online , in person, both)
Accrediting body (in good standing?)
Tuition and fees
Number of allowable transfer credits
Testing for experience? (CLEP, DSST, etc.)
Duration of program (are classes offered
in accelerated options?)
Paying for School
Solid data-driven evidence shows going back to school
to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree results in a
positive investment in one’s career and overall personal
There are numerous options available to you that can
reduce the time needed to complete your degree and assist
in the tuition investment you pay.
Remember: university enrollment counselors are available to
guide you through this process and answer your questions
along the way.
1. Earn credit for experience. Cash in on your real-
life experience and knowledge. Many colleges and
universities allow experienced students to trade in
their career experience and other skills for college
credits through prior learning assessments. You also
can save money and earn college credits by passing
inexpensive College Level Examination Program
(CLEP) and DSST tests.
2. Maximize any past college experience or military
training. If you have attended college in the past, find out
if those credits can transfer in. Also, some schools
offer credit for military training. Leveraging all of your
past experiences can help cut down on the number of
classes you’ll have to pay for and attend.
3. Apply for financial aid. Don’t assume you make
too much money at this stage of your life to qualify
for financial assistance. Scholarships are also available
for adult students. It’s important to note the deadlines for
financial aid and apply as early as possible.
Fastweb.com is an online scholarship-matching service
with a database of over 1.5 million scholarships. You
simply enter in your information, and Fastweb searches
its database for scholarships that you may qualify for.
4. Plan ahead and set up a 529 plan. A 529 plan is
an education savings plan operated by a state or
educational institution designed to help families set
aside funds for future college costs. Parents, aunts,
brothers and sisters can contribute to their adult
relative’s college savings account. Ask for funding for
birthdays, holidays, or other special occasions.
5. Ask for tuition assistance from your employer. Many
employers will cover at least some portion of their
workers’ educational costs and up to $5,250 of the
tuition assistance money you get is tax-free.
6. Pursue higher education wherever you can. Do you
work for a large company that offers a “Corporate U” or
a similar workforce training program? Many of these
classes are accredited by the American Council on
Education (ACE) and could later translate as college
credit at some universities.
Report on Initial Earnings -
of Higher Education
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The Theory of Margin
The Theory of Margin can be a helpful tool. Howard Y.
McClusky introduced the Theory of Margin in 1959 as a way
to explain the need to balance the stresses and demands
(load) on a person with his or her coping resources (power).
By load, we mean the demands made on a person by
self and society. By power, we mean the resources, i.e.
abilities, possessions, position, allies, etc., which a person
can command in coping with load. Margin may be
decreased by increasing load and/or reducing power.
We can control both by modifying either our power or
load. When our load continually matches or exceeds
our power and if both are fixed and/or out of control or
irreversible, the situation becomes difficult to sustain. If,
however, load and power can be controlled, and better
yet, if a person is able to lay hold of a reserve (margin)
of power, he/she is better equipped to meet unforeseen
emergencies, is better positioned to take risks, can
engage in exploratory, creative activities, and is more
likely to learn, etc., i.e. do those things that enable him/her
to live above a plateau of mere self-subsistence (p. 83).
The Theory of Margin can be used as a tool to evaluate many
scenarios in life, including the decision to go back to school.
There will be times when you have no margin and times
when you are running a deficit. With any luck, you will also
have times in your life when things slow down and you have
some margin. Many people found themselves with a lot of
margin when they lost jobs after the recession of 2007. Also,
those who have found themselves under-employed may
have more margin than they are used to as well. Identifying
your margin is the first step in creating some extra space in
your life for school.
Once you’ve thought about and identified your margin,
what adjustments can you make to increase your power
(resources) and/or decrease your load? For some people
this may mean getting help with the kids one night a
week. Someone else might enlist the help of their spouse
in picking up some extra chores on the weekends. Each
person’s situation is going to be unique.
McClusky, H. Y. (1970a). An approach to a differential psychology of
adult potential. In S .M. Grabowski (Ed.), Adult Learning Instruction
(pp. 80-95). Syracuse: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Education and
Adult Education Association of the USA.
Finding the Time and Making it Work
The key is figuring out how to rearrange the life you have so that you can get the life you want.
The Big Picture and the Not-So-Small Details
The financial investment is only one consideration when
making a decision to get your degree. For adults with full-
time jobs, families and social responsibilities, it’s not just
about understanding why college is a worthy choice. It’s
also about figuring out how furthering your education will
weave into your current life.
Remember that success is a family effort. Don’t be afraid to
reach out to your family and friends about the idea of going
back to school. Have conversations about how important it
is to you and discuss what going back to school might look
like. Your friends and family can be your biggest advocates
and might have ideas that you haven’t thought of.
Get the education you deserve. The world of higher
education has changed and most well respected
universities offer some level of degree programs that cater to
adult learners. In these programs, adult students can receive
the same caliber of education the university is known for,
in accelerated formats that fit their busy schedules. These
programs will be attended by other working adults like you
who are balancing work, life and school.
Most importantly, don’t underestimate yourself. You’ve
worked hard to be where you’re at today, and along the
way you’ve overcome numerous barriers. You have the
experience and know-how to get things done, and you’ve
already proven to yourself that you can see things through.
Now, apply those skills and that knowledge to going back to
school and create the future you want.
Enrollment Counselors are
here to help you determine
your best path to college.
303.458.4300 |800.967.3237 |Regis.edu
3333 Regis Blvd.
1605 Foxtrail Drive
6380 S. Fiddlers
7450 Campus Drive,
Colorado Springs, CO
500 E. 84th Ave.
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Need a Photo of one of our
ACs on the phone.
A Path to College
The Journey of Rebecca Smith
Rebecca Smith isn’t a real person, but her story is true for many adults who
decide to return to school. This is the story of someone who realized a
college degree was the next step in their career advancement. This is the
story of someone who mapped out their path to college and leveraged their
workforce training and professional experience to get through school faster,
and more affordably. This could be your story.
B.S. in Marketing, Regis University’s College for Professional Studies, 2013
• Market research • $18,699 tuition cost,
analyst at a local bank after scholarships and
$60,570 annual salary* employer discounts
Rebecca started working as a bank teller after high school
and over the years worked her way up to assistant branch
manager. She soon realized that in order to be promoted
further, she would need a college degree.
Rebecca was already juggling a full-time job and raising
a family, but she also knew that getting a degree would
open doors for her. So, she enlisted the help of friends and
family to support her and started taking classes at her local
community college. Once she completed her core classes
and some of the foundational classes needed for her
bachelor’s degree, Rebecca transferred to Regis University.
Because of the accelerated format, Rebecca was able to
graduate with her bachelor’s degree two years later.**
Degree in hand, Rebecca applied for a higher paying job
within her company and is now a market research analyst.
In addition to making almost twice as much, Rebecca now
has a sense of confidence and accomplishment that she
never had before.
Tuition, 36 credit
hours at Regis
Tuition, 78 credit hours at
CLEP testing (credit
for life experience),
9 credit hours
American Council on
Education (ACE) credits
for workforce training,
6 credit hours
Total cost $25,298
Minus scholarships ($5,000)
Minus employer discount ($1,599)
Final tuition cost for a
bachelor’s degree from
*Median earnings of a market research analyst according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013
**Plan early with the help of a Regis University advisor for best results
†Based on Colorado Community College Tuition
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A Closer Look
Credit by Exam
When Rebecca was promoted to assistant manager, she received training through her employer
that later translated to college credit. Then she received college credit by exam. This allowed her
to complete her degree faster, and it was more affordable.
Credit through the American Council on Education (ACE)
for the following classes:
• Accounting I • Accounting II
Total Credit Hours: 6
Total Cost for Rebecca: None
College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests for the
• BA 381: Legal Environment of Business
• EC 320: Principles of Microeconomics
• EC 330: Principles of Macroeconomics
Total Credit Hours: 9
Total Cost for Rebecca: $345
Classes taken at Community College
Undergraduate Core and Foundational Classes
• Oral Communication. . . . . . . COM 115 (Public Speaking)
• English Comp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ENG 121 and ENG 122
• Lit/Humanities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BUS 217
• Global Issues. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HUM 118 and HUM 200
• Social Sciences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HUM 115 and PSY 105
• Math. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MAT 120
• Natural Science. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BIO 105
• Philosophy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PHI 111 and PHI 112
• Religious Studies. . . . . . . . . . . . . GEO 105 and PHI 114
• Marketing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .MAR 216 and MAR 240
Foundational to Marketing Major Classes
• Management. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MAN 226
• Business. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BUS 226
• + 7 elective classes (21 credit hours)
77 credit hours,
$8,963 in community
Classes taken at Regis University
• Leading Lives that Matter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HU 366
• Business Systems in a Sustainable Society. BA 300
• + 10 Upper Division Marketing Major Classes
36 credit hours,
Total tuition for both institutions, and test fees $25,298
Community College Scholarship ($5,000)
Employer discount: 10% off Regis
tuition through Alliance partnership
Total savings on tuition $6,599
Final total cost $18,699
Did you know?
is the top
to a four-year
Source: Colorado Department of
Higher Education 2013 Transfer
Report, fall 2010 to fall 2011
Please note: Each student’s specific
meant to be an example of ways you
can reduce the cost of your degree.