Repost from Scott Manning
Special Student Contributor
Ten years after high school, I finally applied to a community college to begin taking basic courses (e.g., English, Science). This was all geared toward transferring to AMU in order to pursue a bachelor’s in military history, the topic that overwhelmingly fascinated me in the realm of history.
Several factors led to this decision. While I was busy with travel, marriage, and a career immediately after high school, I did not go to college quite simply because I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I pinpointed my interest in military history in my mid-20s. I was collecting and reading books quickly. Then I discovered it was possible to get a degree in this area I was studying. I recall examining the courses I could take and I realized that they utilized some of the same books I was reading.
Logically, I thought, “Why not get college credit for this stuff I am reading for fun?”
Several people in my life paved the way for me. My wife initiated her efforts toward a bachelor’s degree in her late 20s. She recently completed a master’s degree. Even more impressive, my dad–who is gainfully employed as a captain for US Airways–completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in his 50s. I recall conversations with them both droning on about how many credits they had left.
My approach involved no risk initially. By starting with a community college, I was paying for classes at an affordable rate (roughly $300 each), but there could be no cost to me, as there were government tax credits that covered much more than that amount. I started with only two courses–American History and English. By starting light, I had the option to walk away from the whole experience ultimately paying nothing, but with two college credits under my belt. As time went by, I increased my school load. Eventually, I was taking four courses at a time until I reached the level 300 or 400 stuff.
Today, I am looking at seven remaining courses with the possibility of pursuing a master’s degree. Going back to school is not for everyone. I did not necessarily need to go to school, but I found an interesting field and pursued it. Determining to do so was probably the toughest step, but once I made it, I knew it was the right decision for me.
If you are thinking of returning to school, you should know that the Hope & Lifetime Learning Education Credits would give you a considerable tax refund in your first two years in school.
Read more about Scott Manning and his pursuit of higher education on his blog, Historian on the Warpath.
[see also: What Does Lifelong Learning Really Mean?]