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Giving it the older college try

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in Admins,Office Management

You may have skipped out on college, or never started in the first place. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go back later in life.

Author Carole Sargent says that admins, in particular, ought to consider giving school the older college try.

Sargent, who wrote Traditional Degrees for Nontraditional Students: How to Earn a Top Diploma from America’s Great Colleges at Any Age, was an admin for 10 years before going back to earn her college degree. Today she teaches at Georgetown University.

“Show me an admin who is working for a senior exec, and I see a person who, by definition, could make straight A’s in a competitive college,” Sargent says.

“The best college students are administrative assistants, because the same skills they need to succeed all the way to a doctorate degree—organizing work and other people—are the ones they use as admins.”

Her advice:

• Don’t let money stop you. “The richer the campus, the greater the scholarships,” says Sargent, “and a lot of them are earmarked just for working women.” So aim for the highest campus you can aim for.

“For example, people here in Washington, D.C., will say, ‘I can’t go to Georgetown, it’s too expensive.’ But Georgetown knows how expensive it is, so it’s built in ways for people to put themselves through school.”

Tip: Admissions officers won’t direct you to the best scholarships when you first walk in the door. They only offer those to their top students. So prove you can be a top student.

• Start with one class to boost your confidence. “You can do that at a community college or, even better, through Continuing Ed at your dream college. Those classes cost less, and it’s a great way to get a letter of recommendation from someone at a university.”

Tip: “Make it your only goal to do well in that class,” says Sargent. When you get good grades, you’ll have an easier time drumming up support from your family and even your boss.

“And bosses respect it when you go back to college. If you make an A at a school they think is important, you’ll blow them away,” she says.

“If I’d known that when I was an admin, I would have taken a couple of night classes at Georgetown, shown my A’s to my boss and negotiated what I wanted.”

Need consultation on the financial side of returning to school? Send an e-mail to Sargent at booklab@georgetown.edu.

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