This is a guest post by Ian Kelley: He is the founder of The 30 Something Student where he writes about returning to college as an adult and being smart with your personal finances during and after college. Ian can be reached at ian (at) 30somestudent.com or Twitter or Google+.
If you’re one of the many adults who have decided to go back to college, you are going to have quite a few things on your plate. First, you need to figure out how you are going to fit in classes with your work schedule. If you are married and have children, you will definitely need to implement some pretty intensive time management practices. Somehow you are going to have to figure out how to keep up with your job, not neglect your family, and also focus on your coursework. To top it off you are also going to need to take into consideration how your return to college life is going to affect you financially.
It is no secret that a college education can come with a big sticker price and finding ways to help offset the cost of tuition is very important. Students now have the ability to take advantage of new technologies to save money that weren’t available even just a few years back. While utilizing these new technologies won’t erase the high tuition costs, they can lessen the burden you will feel on your bank account.
Here are three ways new technology can save you some cash during your triumphant return to college.
College Book Stores Are Old News…Look Online for Your Textbooks
Sure, they are still around, but they are becoming less and less useful. It’s no secret to any former or current college student that the campus bookstore is pretty overpriced. Now, with the internet, you can purchase or rent just about any book you need and have it delivered to your door within days. Ordering your textbooks online will save you money and it will also save you the time and hassle of actually going to your campus bookstore. Not only can you find your textbooks at online megastores such as Amazon, but there are also many smaller online textbook specialty stores that offer really good deals on new and used college textbooks.
Consider Buying a Tablet
Yes, it does sound contrary to suggest buying something to save money but hear me out. Many instructors assign readings that consist of PDF files. Initially you will be thanking the professor for giving you these files to download and print out at home. Shortly, if you haven’t already, you will begin to realize the high cost of printer ink. Some ink cartridges can be very expensive depending on your printer and these expenses can add up very quickly. The cost of tablets, on the other hand, has begun to drop and you can find a good quality one for around $200. If you spread that expense over the course of a few semesters the price becomes pretty reasonable.
If you are wondering if you will be able to take notes on your tablet, the answer is yes. Apps now allow you to make notes and highlight your PDF’s which comes in very handy. Also, when you graduate, you have a tablet and not a box full of printed articles you will need to recycle.
You Don’t Have to Drive to College Anymore
A trend that has been increasing in popularity over the last few years is the proliferation of the online college course. Just a few years back online courses were disregarded by higher education institutions. Today, they are widely accepted and available at nearly every institution, big or small. What this means for the busy adult trying to balance family, work, and college, is that with online courses it is up to you when you attend class. There will still be deadlines on assignments, but you will be able to decide when you want to work on them. You no longer need to get out the old college catalog and hope that the classes you need are delivered at night so you can keep your 9 to 5.
So before you go buy the brand new books down at the campus bookstore, get the Cadillac of printers at your local electronics superstore, or tell your boss you quit because your courses won’t fit with your work schedule, look into the 3 tips above. Each of these can save you quite a bit of cash and time. Although college tuition prices continue to soar, leveraging new technology can help you offset those costs and allow your mind to focus on the important journey ahead.
Image Source: Johan Larsson on Flickr