The decision to return to school is not made
lightly. While earning a degree can be highly
rewarding in the form of better career opportunities
and higher pay, the path to get there can be
fi lled with challenges, especially if you’re trying to
fi t school and studies in with your work and family
An education unlocks so many doors. It’s worth
taking the time to make sure you’re opening the
door that’s right for you.
Before you register for that fi rst class, it’s important
to consider and plan for how you’re going to get
it all done, from working out an arrangement with
your workplace to accommodating your school
schedule and enlisting help from family members
to get chores done.
Here are top questions every potential student
should ask themselves before they begin
What are my career goals?
When you’re looking at a specifi c college program,
it’s good to take a step back and examine
your goals and motivations and how going back to
school fi ts in. If you’re hoping the degree or certifi -
cation will lead to a promotion or pay increase so
you can better support your family, it’s important
to know how that will happen. To get a gauge on
the local market, search for job openings in your
chosen fi eld. If you have time, sit down for informational
interviews with people in the fi eld to give you
a clearer picture of how a degree or certifi cation
can help you. Finally, some institutions provide
support and information to prospective students.
Make an appointment with the career center so you
can better understand how a certain degree will advance
Tips to help college grads buy the perfect vehicle
Caribbean L 42 ife, June 28–July 4, 2019 BQ
your career or help you meet your goals.
How will I manage the costs of
High tuition costs and student loans can be a
source of worry for many students. Before you commit
to a school, be sure to take some time to uncover
resources that will make your education more affordable.
Start by talking to the fi nancial aid offi ce.
Some institutions offer scholarships and fi nancing
options, as well as programs that incentivize students
to do well. For instance, Strayer University
automatically enrolls bachelor’s students in its
Graduation Fund, which allows students to earn
one no-cost course for every three classes successfully
completed. These classes can be redeemed in
the student’s fi nal year of their bachelor’s degree
program. As long as students stay continuously enrolled,
these credits have the potential to reduce
the cost of a bachelor’s degree by up to 25 percent.
Other cost-reducing avenues at other schools
include research scholarships and grants, which
may be available to people in certain fi elds. Also,
don’t forget to talk to your employer. Many workplaces
offer tuition assistance programs to their
Does the program offer fl exibility
for my busy schedule?
Earning a degree or certifi cation is a major
commitment. For some students, work and family
responsibilities can elbow their way into a busy
school schedule. “It helps to know the availability
and quality of fl exible options offered by your
school. These offerings can help make your educational
experience more manageable and enjoyable,”
said Brian Jones, president of Strayer University.
There are programs structured so students can
learn at their own pace. FlexPath - available at
Capella University - gives students the fl exibility to
complete coursework at a speed that is comfortable
for them. Students are evaluated by how well they
demonstrate competency in a course, so whether it
takes two weeks or 12, they’re free to move on to
their next course at their own pace.
Once you fl esh out the answers to these key questions,
you can start taking classes with the confi -
dence that your chosen program is right for you
and your career.
Key questions adult learners should
ask before returning to school
Congratulations, college graduates! You’re all set to
enter the job market, but do you have what it takes
to get to and from interviews or work? It might be
time to move on from worn-out, hand-me-down vehicles
for your fresh start in life.
“Safety ratings and affordability are important
considerations when it comes to purchasing a vehicle,
but you should also know that you’ll need to budget for
additional costs in your monthly expenses once you
become an owner,” said “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to
Buying or Leasing a Car” author Jack R. Nerad.
Buying a car doesn’t have to break the bank, and
grads should factor insurance, fuel and maintenance
costs into their purchase decision.
Here are four things to consider when shopping for
Vehicle safety ratings are evaluated based on crashworthiness
and crash preventability.
The National Highway Traffi c Safety Administration
(NHTSA) has a 5-Star Ratings program, with
more stars meaning the vehicle is safer, while the Insurance
Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) tests vehicles
for crashworthiness, and crash avoidance and
“I recommend looking at both the IIHS and NHTSA
ratings to identify vehicles that are crashworthy and,
importantly, have equipment that will help drivers
avoid a crash, which is preferable to surviving one,”
Many modern vehicles are equipped with
Adaptive Driver Assistance Systems like lane departure
warning, blind spot information systems,
and braking assistance technology to help prevent
a collision or lessen its severity.
Insurance should be top-of-mind when picking a
car because it’ll protect you and your vehicle. Its role in
the shopping process is two-fold: it can give you a sense
of your monthly premium based on the car you select
and it also lets you fi nd the right company for your insurance
needs ahead of making either purchase.
“Younger drivers generally have higher premiums
because of their inexperience, and statistics show that
driving experience has a signifi cant impact on accidents,”
said Mercury Insurance Chief Claims Offi cer
Randy Petro. “We recommend that you speak with
an insurance agent to help ensure you get the right
amount of coverage at the best possible rate.”
Mercury recently examined model-year 2015-2018
vehicles with high ratings from NHTSA and IIHS to
compile a top-10 list of the most affordable vehicles to
insure for college grads. The list is based on a national
average of the price for full coverage, but other factors
can push that rate up or down. The 2016 Hyundai Santa
Fe ranked fi rst, while other Hyundai models, Kias and
Hondas also made the list.
Fuel is a recurring expense for vehicle owners.
A tip to determine how much it’ll cost each month is
to factor in the size of the vehicle’s fuel tank, average
miles driven and gas prices. Speeding, rapidly accelerating
or braking aggressively burn through fuel at
a faster rate, so it’s best to follow the speed limit and
stay away from aggressive driving behaviors to save
money on gas.
Maintenance and repairs
Vehicle ownership includes being fi nancially responsible
for wear-and-tear and general maintenance,
like oil changes, and tire and brake replacement. Owners
manuals provide information about recommended
services and frequency, and many are available online
to help with your car-buying research.
It’s a good idea to start a repair fund early on to protect
against potential rainy day blues once the manufacturer’s
“An extended warranty, like Mercury’s Mechanical
Protection plans, helps extend the life of a vehicle
for up to seven years or 100,000 miles,” said Nerad.
“This is something to consider to help cover the cost to
repair your vehicle if it breaks down.”
Finding a safe, reliable vehicle will keep you moving
forward in life’s journey, and these tips will help
make it more affordable. Good luck, and enjoy the