What are my educational options?
Your decision about which school or program you enroll in will depend on many factors: your personal and career goals, your finances, your educational background and current skills, and your ability to overcome any barriers that may arise because of your criminal history. Your decision may also depend on day-to-day needs—such as your health, family responsibilities, access to transportation, and parole or probation conditions.
To start, here is an overview of the educational options this Chapter will cover:
- Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes (PG. 846) improve your basic math, reading, writing, and life skills; and these classes can help you get ready for high school-level work.
- High school credentials (diploma or GED) (PG. 847) are a minimum requirement for many jobs, and are a necessary step before you can continue your education through a Career Technical Education program or a college or university degree. You can earn a high school credential by completing a high school diploma program or passing the GED test.
- Career Technical Education (CTE) programs (PG. 854) train you for specific kinds of jobs, and sometimes lead to certificates or professional/occupational licenses that you need for those jobs. Different programs take different lengths of time, but they’re often designed so that you can complete them in 1 year.
- College Degree: Two-year and four-year colleges and universities award college degrees (also called academic degrees) for completing a program of academic study. College degree programs usually do not train you for a specific type of job, but give you a wide variety of general skills that are useful for many different professions. The different types of college (academic) degrees are: associate, and bachelor’s.
- Two-year college (associate degree) programs (PG. 858) allow you to earn an associate degree, which can be a stepping-stone to entry-level jobs or to a four-year college program. Note: Part-time students will take longer than 2 years.
- Four-year college and university programs (PG. 857) allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree, which can be a stepping-stone to higher-level jobs or to graduate or professional school. Note: Part-time students will take longer than 4 years.
- Graduate or professional schools allow you to earn advanced degrees after you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree. Earning a professional degree allows you to become licensed to work in professions like law or medicine; the kinds of jobs it can lead to depends on your field of study. Earning a master’s degree generally takes 2 years, and a doctorate degree can take 3 years or more.
HERE ARE SUGGESTED STEPS AS YOU PLAN YOUR EDUCATIONAL PATH:
1. SET YOUR EDUCATIONAL GOALS
What do you want to achieve in pursuing your education? What subjects interest you? What skills do you want to improve? What job(s) do you want? What training or skills are required for the job(s)?
2. ASSESS YOUR SKILL LEVEL
Take a placement test and/or work with an educational counselor to see if you should start with Adult Basic Education (ABE) or if you are ready for High School or Higher Education.
3. KNOW POTENTIAL LIMITATIONS & BARRIERS
Do your family obligations, finances, or criminal history present barriers that may limit your educational options? If so, just being aware will help you decide what the best option will be for you.
4. CHOOSE AN EDUCATIONAL PATH
Based on your needs, choose a program or school that’s right for you:
Adult Basic Education
Literacy, ESL, and/or
High School Education
GED Preparation or
CTE Program (Certificate)
2-Year College (Associate’s Degree)
4-Year College (Bachelor’s Degree)
Graduate or Professional School
See Coll. Bd., Quick Guide: Your College Degree Options, www.bigfuture.collegeboard.org/find-colleges/college-101/quick-guide-your-college-degree-options; Nat’l Coll. Transition Network, Educational Planning, www.collegeforadults.org/career/ed.html. ↑