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Checklist for Going to School

Whether you've been out of school for a couple of months or a couple of decades, the following steps will help get you started on the road to further education.

If you haven’t already decided on an educational goal, start by visiting CAREERinsite to do some career planning. Then, follow this checklist:   

  • Talk to people and use resources such as OCCinfo to find out what education or training you need to reach your career goals in Alberta. For many types of work, you can acquire the necessary skills and knowledge in a variety of ways. Even in occupations that require a specific certification, there may be more than one way to qualify.
  • Use resources such the Education Programs section at OCCinfo to find out:
    • what programs are available and where
    • how long the programs take to complete
    • what the admission requirements are for programs
    • what certificate, diploma or degree you would receive after completing each program.
  • Visit the website of the post-secondary institution offering the program to find out the program's start dates and how much they cost.
  • Talk to potential employers before you choose a training or education program.
    • Find out what their preferences are if given the choice of job candidates who have graduated from different programs.
    • Ask employers what the employment situation is like for people currently doing the work you want and what the employment prospects are likely to be after you graduate.
  • Read the relevant program and application information that post-secondary institutions publish on their websites and in program calendars.  
  • Check the entrance requirements for the program(s) of your choice to see if you have the required educational background.  
    • If you don't have the required education, check the institution's mature student admission policy. If you have been out of school for a year or more, you may not have to meet all of the specified program entrance requirements.
    • If you don't qualify as a mature student or still need particular courses, you will have to take upgrading courses before you are eligible for admission. Check the information published by the post-secondary institution—some institutions offer their own upgrading programs to help students prepare for further education.
  • Apply for admission as early as possible. It's a good idea to apply to more than one program, especially if your preferred program has limited enrolment and more people apply than can be accepted each year. 
  • Figure out how much going back to school will cost and if you will need financial assistance.  Look for information about awards and scholarships as well as information about student loans. Not all awards require high marks—scholarships are also awarded for achievements in extracurricular activities such as sports and volunteering. As well, many bursaries are awarded on the basis of financial need and relationship to a particular group or organization, so don't overlook these possibilities! 
    Loans eventually have to be repaid and some awards have conditions attached. 
  • Choose classes and register for them. 
  • Plan ahead to ensure that going back to school will be as easy and enjoyable as possible. Make arrangements well in advance for:  
    • child care
    • housing
    • transportation.
  • Attend a study skills seminar, writing class or time management workshop, or learn how to use a word-processing program—whatever you think might improve your ability to do well in your studies. 
  • Ask for help if you need it. There are many resources available, such as student counselling services, tutors and support groups.
  • Read the student services sections of program calendars or post-secondary institution websites for information about the services available and who to contact for more information.

Going back to school is a major decision. Follow this checklist to be more confident about the decision you are making about your education. 

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