Okay, so it was fun hanging out with friends this summer, you have taken a break and recuperated from all that fun, and it is now Fall many of your friends and family have been posting pics on their Instagram and Snapchat stories from Homecoming. Maybe you have gotten your own kids settled into their school routines, you want to get yourself in line for a promotion, and this is the year – you are going back to school!
TIME TO MAKE (what seems like) LAST MINUTE DECISIONS!
The choices are many. Don’t let the choices overwhelm you. Start with these things to consider:
What do you want to study? The Alaska Career Information System (AKCIS.org) provides a comprehensive list of Programs of Study to prepare you for the career you are seeking. AKCIS will even help you find a school in your area offering your program of interest. Not sure where to start or what career or career cluster you might be interested in? An AKCIS Assessment, like the Career Cluster Inventory or Interest Profiler, can help you focus your research to areas of study most interesting to you.
On-ground versus Online
Do you like to participate in conversations, experience different points of view, work face to face, and have a school nearby? On-ground classes will probably be your cup of tea. Most career and technical programs offer on-ground classes.
Do you manage your time well and process information well on your own? Online schools allow for lectures and assignments to be viewed and completed using the Internet. You may need to use a nearby testing center to complete exams.
Some schools offer both on-ground and online courses. Keep in mind: many on-ground classes will require online components such as assignments, quizzes, supplemental lectures, and class resources.
Questions to ask here are - When do I have time to take a class? Am I available for day, evening, or weekend class sessions? How long are the programs? Some schools offer evening sessions, but they may take longer to complete – 14 months versus 7 months for a day session.
A common misconception is that school only starts in August and January. Schools and training programs have more offerings now than ever before. Alaska Construction Academies, Women in the Trades, and Helmets to Hardhats have training sessions around the state with something offered almost every month. For further information, and to see what the current offerings are, navigate to: http://www.alaskaworks.org/
Some schools have set class lengths – terms. Alaska Career College has certificate and associates day courses starting every month, evening courses every other month, and weekend courses starting three times a year. Charter College has day and evening courses starting every five weeks. Wayland Baptist runs 11-week terms.
Financial aid is available in many forms. Most all of them require the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The 2020-2021 FAFSA opened on 1 October 2019. FAFSA Time Alaska events are taking place in communities all over Alaska. More events are being added every day. If you are unable to attend a community event, register for an online FAFSA Time Alaska event. Start your FAFSA – today!
The AKCIS Financial Aid Sort can help you sort through a robust list of scholarships and grants to find opportunities you qualify for quickly and easily.
The Alaska Air National Guard and Alaska Army National Guard are other ways to find financial assistance while allowing you to stay here in Alaska and to keep your current job. Contact a recruiter for more information and options.
Alaska Education Loans help close the gap between financial need and cost of attendance. They can be used at a wide range of postsecondary institutions, reflecting Alaska’s workforce and education needs. In addition to using Alaska loans at all colleges and career training schools that qualify for federal financial aid, you can also use them at some career training facilities that do not participate in federal programs. Check with the Alaska school or training facility of your choice to find out if they can accept an Alaska student loan.
Whether you are starting from scratch or re-starting, AKCIS.org is a FREE online, comprehensive Personal Learning & Career Planning (PLCP) system to help you know yourself, research options, evaluate options, set goals, and make plans from Assessments to Financial Aid and everything in between. It is never too late to get started. Start TODAY!