An essential part of the healing process when in recovery is bettering your life to create a bright future. For many, this means acquiring new skills to help create opportunities for growth. Addiction can take people away from personal development because it quickly becomes the center of their universe. If you feel like you’ve been set back by your substance use disorder, don’t lose hope; plenty of adults are returning to school to achieve their goals in education and advance their careers.
Is School the Right Choice For You?
There are many things to consider before you enroll in classes or move forward with the idea of returning to school. Take your time and write out some pros and cons you foresee when taking on the challenges of earning an education or learning new skills.
- Timing is critical, especially when you’re coming out of treatment. Being new in recovery is overwhelming, but also very inspiring so it’s natural to feel like you can take on anything now that your head is clear and you’re no longer ruled by your substance use disorder. Make sure you don’t rush into anything that may prove to be too much too soon.
- Preparation is key before making a big decision. Are you ready to take on the highs and lows of studying and taking tests? Some counselors suggest waiting about a year before introducing unpredictable environments like a classroom or college setting into your life. This can help you avoid coming into contact with relapse triggers which are abundant on college campuses.
- Prioritizing your education is wonderful, but make sure you’re not overlooking other things you need to take care of. Getting your financial situation in order could prove to be very beneficial before enrolling and signing up for student loans or tuition payments. An education may help you attain a better job and higher income in the future, but you want to make a financial plan to take care of your current situation.
Picking a School or Program
If you’ve chosen to move forward with your plans of returning to school, it’s time to start looking at all of your options. There are many different kinds of programs available so you should narrow down your choices based on what you think would suit your lifestyle best.
GED or General Education Development: If you’re looking to go into higher learning, you need a high school diploma or GED to move forward. Don’t worry; you don’t have to go back to high school if you didn’t graduate! You can take GED prep courses that should be available in your community before signing up to take the exam. There are also online courses available if you are more of an independent learner.
Trade Schools: A four-year college program is not for everyone, and that’s perfectly okay! Trade schools are becoming more and more popular every year with many people reentering the workforce after drug treatment. Trade schools help you learn new skills that will immediately help place you into a job where you can begin to earn money. If the idea of paying for four years of college tuition is just not in the plans for you, check out 2018’s best trade schools across the country and explore what may be in store for you.
Paid Training and Work: If you want to learn but you also want to work to support yourself and possibly your family, some companies offer payment for training! These workplaces create training programs to help you learn your future role in the company but also recognize that your time learning these skills is worth paying you. For almost all of these programs, no experience is required, and you don’t have to pay for your materials or any kind of tuition. When looking for these jobs, check out Indeed and Monster. Then use Payscale to look at the average salaries for these positions to see if they’d be suitable for your needs.
Sober Campuses: As America continues to deal with the rampant opioid epidemic, more and more sober schools are popping up across America. With opioid addiction killing 4,110 Americans under the age of 25 in 2016, educators are looking to create safe campuses where people with substance use disorders or have been affected by addiction can be around others who also want to stay away from drugs and alcohol. If a sober school isn’t on your radar, there are still many sober student programs available at other schools that cater to students who are actively involved in treatment and recovery.
Online Courses: While many traditional schools offer classes that are in-person and online, there are some schools that are entirely online or will allow you to earn a degree without ever having to step foot into a classroom. This is particularly useful for people who are busy parents who also work, or for people who find classroom setting distracting. Makes sure any online university you look at is accredited before enrolling.
Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grants
If your first thought when considering going back to school was “tuition payments,” well you’d be right to worry. The tuition rates for schooling in America continue to rise, and for some, a four-year degree from a prominent university is just not attainable with an average salary. Most importantly, earning an education after treatment shouldn’t be putting you in unnecessary amounts of debt. Don’t let this stop you from exploring other options, however. Find out if you’re a candidate for financial aid by filling out a FAFSA form. You should also look into some of the thousands of scholarship or grant opportunities that may be available for returning students or first-timers. Make sure you always read the fine print before signing any financial documents!
Returning to school is a big decision, but it’s also an exciting prospect that will change your life. Properly planning yourself for embarking on this venture will help ensure that you will maintain your work in recovery while also supplementing your life with new opportunities and chances to create an even brighter future.