Practical tips for Applying to School
The process of pursuing your education—not to mention the larger process of transitioning back into your community—can be rewarding, but also challenging and stressful at times. You’ll be dealing with a lot of forms, applications, and procedures, which can feel overwhelming. Here are some tips for staying on track:
- Gather and organize all the documents you will need for applying to schools and programs, financial aid, and employment (see list on PG. 832). Keep all your important documents together, and use a large envelope or folder to store them. Keeping these papers clean, safe, and organized will save you lots of time and frustration. Getting some of these documents may require lots of paperwork, a long application process, or lots of follow-up efforts, so if you are able to gather these documents as soon as possible, take advantage of this and gather them to save you time. (For details about these documents—what they are and how to get them—see the BUILDING BLOCKS OF REENTRY: ID & VOTING CHAPTER, beginning on PG. 21.)
- Take the time to make informed decisions. Before committing to any school or program, get as much information as possible and consider your options carefully. Do background research at the library or on the Internet, ask questions to people who have been through the program or know of its reputation, beware of scams and bogus credentials, and investigate ways to save time and money.
- Ask for help! Get advice from the people who are there to help you. If you are currently incarcerated, talk to the education staff, counselors, and program directors at your facility. Ask friends and family members to do research and gather information for you. If you’re in the community, visit your local public library and look for reentry programs, community organizations, career centers, and community colleges in your area.
See Anna Crayton & Nicole Lindahl, Back to School: A Guide to Continuing Your Education after Prison, Prisoner Reentry Institute, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (2010). ↑