Did you pass up college or leave a degree unfinished to work or start a family? Do you need a degree to advance at your workplace, or to seek a different job altogether? Were you rejected by universities you applied to because of poor transcripts, SAT, or ACT scores? Have you retired, and want to broaden your world with a college education? Are you looking for a new start in life? If so, then an associate's degree in general studies might be your answer.
Make sure you have your ducks in a row before you apply to a college program. Find your high school transcripts and any test scores the school might ask for (SAT, ACT, TOEFL, etc.); the college catalog will list what you need. If you didn't graduate from high school, you will probably need to take the GED exam; check with your local library or school system to find out where and when GED classes and the test are offered. If you had to leave school for academic or disciplinary reasons, you may need to prepare a letter of explanation, with assurances that your situation has changed. If you're a nontraditional student, you may be nervous about entering academia for the first time.
Relax! Your fears are unfounded. Many older adults go back to school, so you won't be the only one in most of your classes. Colleges have special resources and supports for adult students, such as childcare, tutoring services, and social organizations. And if you're worried that you won't be able to keep up with kids fresh out of high school, don't be. Studies show adult students tend to outperform younger classmates, due to their discipline, motivation, and focus. Plus, you'll find your life and work experience add a great deal to classroom discussions.
You should be able to locate an associate's program in general studies without much difficulty. It may be called "general arts" or "liberal arts" at some institutions, and at four-year schools, you might find it offered by the Department of Continuing Education. Junior and community colleges also offer solid general studies programs. When you're trying to decide on schools, ask these questions: Can I get financial aid? Do classes fit around my work and family schedule? Can I take classes online? Is onsite childcare available? Can I transfer my credits if I choose to get a bachelor's degree, or if I want to re-apply to another school? Does this college have career services? Where are graduates employed?
General studies give students a solid foundation in liberal arts and sciences. You'll be able to select from a variety of classes, and add certificates in popular career fields. One semester's schedule might include: entomology, political science, popular film, and comparative religion, while the next will find you studying French, oil painting, Civil War history and philosophy. Whatever you choose, you'll find your associate's degree in general studies enjoyable, profitable, and valuable.