It doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re currently in, you may be under the impression you can only go to school or go to work. You may think there’s no happy medium of doing both.

What if we told you there actually is an achievable middle ground that includes both school and work?

You don’t need to press pause on your life to get an education. On the other hand, you also don’t need to put your education on hold to live your life. It will take a lot of hard work and dedication, but you truly are capable of succeeding in both fields!

But where do you start your journey? What should you study? What school fits your lifestyle? The answers to these questions may surprise you!

Do Your Research on Local Schools

Whether you’re a fresh-faced 18-year-old coming right out of high school or a middle-aged worker wanting to further your career by going back to school, you need to do your research on all your possible school options.

The first step in your research should be conducting an online search about what secondary-education schools are in your area. This online search can allow you to find local community colleges, four-year universities or even trade schools. You may even find online colleges in this search that could open other doors in your educational journey.

Academic Advisors Can Help

Once you compile a list of local schools, you’ll most likely need some help on figuring out if you want to even apply to attend these schools. Browse through each school’s website to learn more about the school.

If you’re still left with unanswered questions, reach out to the schools’ academic advisors or recruiters. These professionals can answer your questions about the application process, tuition, programs or the school itself. Academic advisors and recruiters can be your best friends when it comes to deciding upon a school to attend.

Financial Aid and Grants

At the end of the day, what do you need to attend college? Money. Most people must work hard to save up bits and pieces of their paychecks to help pay for each class or each semester of college. This isn’t always easy to do though, especially when you consider the fact that the cost of living is sky high.

One of the very first steps you should complete when you decide to go back to school is to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). When you complete this, you’ll be eligible for a certain amount of federal funds in which you can put towards your tuition and educational fees. Your financial aid and grants from FAFSA can impact which school you can afford to attend.

It’s also a good idea to apply for any and all scholarships or grants you possibly can. You can’t earn a scholarship or grant unless you apply, so apply for as many as you can! Academic advisors and recruiters can help you find scholarships and grants to apply to, but you can also potentially find some by conducting an online search.

Programs and Fields

Some people are lucky and they know exactly what career path they want to take in life. There’s no hesitation, they just jump right into a specific program at a specific college and sprint to their degree to start their career.

This definitely isn’t the case for all people though.

There’s no shame in not knowing what degree you want to pursue or what job you want to do for the rest of your life. One of the ways you can figure out what you want to earn a degree in is by talking through your ideas, strengths and weaknesses with your family and friends.

These trusted and important people in your life can help you narrow down your options or come up with fields you never even thought of going into before. (An academic advisor or recruiter can also help you do the same thing. Catching onto a theme here?)

It’s also important to enjoy what degree you’re going back to school to earn. To help you decide on a field you want to join, make a list of what you like to do in your free time. You can then explore careers in these activities and see if the local schools in your area offer degrees that stem from these activities.

Levels of Education

A degree is a very broad term for what you can earn when you return to school. You could be going back to earn a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree, a master’s degree, a high school diploma, a training certificate, a doctoral degree or something else entirely. Your choice of degree is really based on what you’ve already earned in your lifetime. It could also be based on what future job you may be trying to acquire. The best thing to do would be to talk to an academic advisor or recruiter on what type of degree is best for you and your future.

One-Stop, Helpful Online Options

Figuring out which school to attend, what financial aid to apply for, what program or field to enter into, and what level of education you need to complete are all big decisions to make. It may seem overwhelming to think about doing your research on all these aspects, but hey, that’s basically the essence of schoolwork anyway!

If you need some assistance with finding out what will work best for you, there are some one-stop, helpful online options that can help you neatly plan and execute your actions.

One of those helpful online options is My Degree. This website can help you get matched to nearly anything you need to start off on your path to attending college. It can help you find available financial aid to help you afford college such as loans and scholarships and see if you qualify for up to $6,345 in grants.

My Degree can also help connect you to programs, degrees and fields that interest you the most. Some of the programs you can be matched to can be in healthcare and/or nursing, education and teaching, criminal justice, business, technology, engineering, math and/or science, the trades, art and design, communications, psychology, cosmetology and even culinary arts.

Based on your preferences, thoughts and even your personal schedule, My Degree can help you find an in-person/on-campus school to attend, an online-only school or even a school that offers a blend of both types of learning opportunities.

You don’t need to put your life on hold to get an education. The time is now for you to press play on a brighter future and a fulfilling career path thanks to these helpful pieces of advice.