Getting Started - Iowa College Access Network - ICAN

Getting Started

Once you've decide to attend college, you'll have some additional choices to make. Think about what you want to study, where you'd like to go to college, your timeline and how it all fits together with your current life.

Selecting a Program

While moving away to a new location may seem appealing, most adults find it more realistic to study a little closer to home. You may need to consider the needs of your family or your current job when deciding where to study. Besides the traditional campus, consider:

  • Special programs for adults.
    • Advanced or accelerated classes let you earn your degree in less time or non-daytime hours.
    • Cohort programs are designed for specialized and hands-on learning.
  • Community college.
    • You can usually find a community college within driving distance, and many offer flexible schedules for adult learners.
  • Satellite classes.
    • Many colleges offer classes in satellite locations that are easily accessible.
  • Online, televised or hybrid courses.
    • You may be able to earn all or part of your degree from home or a local facility by taking classes over the Internet or via television.

An online search can help you choose a program. Some websites match the type of program you're looking for with schools that offer a suitable program.

Choosing a Major

Deciding on a college major sets the path for your new career or life focus. If you aren't sure what to study:

  • Research the majors offered at some of the colleges you're considering.
    • Cross off anything that you know you don't want to study.
    • Consider what's left: Do you see a theme developing?
  • Take a free online assessment at www.ihaveaplaniowa.gov.

Pursuing a Degree

A college education doesn't necessarily end with a four-year bachelor's degree. You can choose the option that most suits what you want to accomplish and how long you want to attend college.

  • Certificates, diplomas and associate degrees:
    • Are offered in nine-month, one-year and two-year programs.
    • Focus on specific careers and offer hands-on training.
    • May allow credit transfer if you decide to continue your education.
  • Bachelor's degrees:
    • Are four-year degrees.
    • Include general education and specific major classes.
  • Master's or doctorate degrees:
    • Involve study beyond bachelor's degree requirements.
    • Can range from two to eight years after bachelor's degree attainment.
    • May be required for certain professions.

 

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