The U.S. Dept of Education’s Take Charge of Your Future guide can help you learn how to get the education you need to succeed

Take charge of your future

Those in reentry – or still incarcerated – who need more education or training should check out Take Charge of Your Future: Get the Education and Training You Need. This excellent 63-page guide, published by the U.S. Dept. of Education, will help you establish and carry out your educational goals.

Getting an education is important. Not only will it help you get a job, but it means that you will earn more money.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data:

The unemployment rate in 2022 was:

  • 5.5% for those with less than a high school diploma
  • 4% for those with a high school diploma
  • 3.5% for those with some college but no degree
  • 2.7% for those with an associate’s degree
  • 2.2% for those with a bachelor’s degree

The median weekly earnings in 2022 were:

  • $682 for those with less than a high school diploma
  • $853 for those with a high school diploma
  • $935 for those with some college but no degree
  • $1,005 for those with an associate’s degree
  • $1,432 for those with a bachelor’s degree

Yes, it pays to be educated. Since that’s the case, what steps should you take to make sure that you can take charge of your future?

Taking charge of your educational future

Take Charge of Your Future takes you through the process. And here is a chapter-by-chapter explanation of how it can help you.

Chapter 1: Some Practical Advice

This chapter recommends laying the groundwork before you begin. You should:

  • Get your life together in terms of housing, work, transportation, counseling and reconnecting with family and friends who might be able to help you.
  • Ask for help from reentry organizations, churches and nonprofit organizations.
  • Research educational opportunities to make sure the one you choose is right for you.
  • Be patient, set goals that are realistic, and encourage others to support you as you pursue the path to education.
  • Learn to use a computer, if you don’t already know how to. Help and free classes are available at places like your local library and American Job Centers.
  • Check out all of the services provided at your local library and American Job Center.
  • Visit the National Literacy Directory online to find literacy and adult education programs near you.

Chapter 2: Create a Plan

This chapter provides three steps to help get you going:

Step 1: Explore Your Interests asks you to make a list of skills, experiences, jobs you’ve had and things you enjoy doing. You may want to visit online websites like My Next Move and CareerOneStop that will help you envision a career pathway.

Step 2: Find More Career Information recommends first finding out whether you can legally do the jobs you are interested in. Then do what you can to find out as much as possible about these jobs. A good place to begin is with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Step 3: Create Your Plan suggests taking the next step, whether it’s increasing your skillset, getting a GED or applying to a higher education or technical training program.

Chapter 3: Gather Information and Get Organized

The two-step process in this chapter will help lay the foundation for your future success.

Step 1: Gather Important Documents recommends you begin gathering your important documents together as soon as possible, since it may take a lot of time. And it tells you exactly how to get these documents, which include your birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license, high school diploma and criminal record.

Step 2: Get Organized explains how to store your records, create a workspace and organize your time.

Chapter 4: Earn Your High School Credential

Step 1: Know Where to Start explains:

  • The options for earning a high school diploma.
  • How to get an education assessment to determine your basic skills and where you might begin your educational journey.
  • What learning challenges you may encounter and who to turn to for help.

Step 2: Find the Education Services you Need highlights the types of services available and how to find them. These include adult basic education, English literacy instruction and integrated education and training.

Step 3: Earn a credential: Take an HSE Test describes the GED and HiSET high school equivalency tests and how to prepare for and take them. Another option is to earn an adult high school diploma by taking courses as part of an official high school program.

Chapter 5: Choose and Enroll in a College or Career Program

This chapter includes options to explore when looking into technical training, community colleges and four-year colleges, with lots of resources to help you make decisions. It also covers such nitty-gritty details as how to enroll in a program and register for classes.

Chapter 6: Get Money to Pay for College

College can be prohibitively expensive, but this chapter walks you through the steps you must take in applying for Federal Student Aid, filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and how to seek other forms of financial aid from states or colleges and universities.

Editors Note: This guide is an invaluable resource for those who want to continue their education at any level. It not only takes you through the process of getting an education in a comprehensive step-by-step fashion, but it also includes links to countless other resources that can help you along the way.

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