By Crystal Ladwig, Ph.D.
We all want good paying jobs, job security, and the chance to make a better life for ourselves and our families. For many adults, that may mean going back to school to learn new skills or even to get a degree.
With that in mind, here are five reasons to go back to school this year and how to do it.
1. College degree required
While there are still many vocational occupations that don’t require a college degree, more and more jobs require one. In fact, within the next few years, 65 percent of jobs will require some sort of post-secondary training. This means that many jobs that haven’t historically required a college degree will require one soon. Going back to school now will better prepare workers for this growing trend so that they will be prepared as college degrees are required more frequently.
2. Career advancement
Even if you have a degree in the area of your chosen profession, a college degree may be advantageous to you. Seeking a higher education degree shows employers a drive and hunger on the part of an employee and keeps skills current. Such positive views of an employee go a long way when you’re up for a promotion.
3. Job security
The stress and fear that go along with the possibility of losing a job are immense. In the current political climate with its ups and downs, we’ve come to expect that workers seek to do all they can to secure their jobs. Research shows that those with higher degree levels are less likely to be unemployed. Those who do lose their jobs are much more likely to get hired by a new employer more quickly if they have a higher-level college degree.
4. Higher salary
Historical trends show that those with college degrees make more money than those without them. This trend of higher salaries for college graduates continues to this day. Not only that, but having a higher education level within a career means more money, too. For example, two public school teachers teach second grade at a local elementary school. One has a Bachelor’s degree while the other has a Master’s degree. In districts throughout the country, the one with the Master’s degree will make more money even though they do the exact same work.
5. Career flexibility or second career
There are many reasons why people change careers as adults. Your company may be downsizing. You may be seeking something new and challenging. You may just be working with the wrong leaders. Regardless of your reasons, workers today have the ability now more than ever to get a new degree to add flexibility to their careers or even to start on a new one.
Where to start
The decision to go back to school isn’t easy. And once you make that decision, there’s still a lot to do. Start with choosing a degree program, college, and instructional format. Are you seeking a new career or to advance your current one? What colleges or universities offer degrees in that area? Do you prefer to learn in a traditional, face-to-face program, or would you be open to an online degree program? Online programs have been expanding and have been a viable option for going back to school–you can get an online computer science degree, a sports medicine degree, or learn game design online. Answering those questions helps you decide where to apply.
Contact admissions offices at each college you’re interested in to find out what you need to do to apply. There may be entrance exams that you need to take, letters of reference you need to acquire, or other steps appropriate for an adult returning to school. Explore your financial aid options as well. There are ways to cut costs, some designed especially for workers returning to school.
Finally, start organizing your time for the coming year. You can work full time, raise a family, and go to school, but it takes planning and organization. There are more options than ever for adults going back to school. Explore your reasons and options, seek guidance from admissions officers, and get ready to soar!
Dr. Crystal Ladwig has taught online and face-to-face college courses for 20 years. She specializes in training future teachers and researches the training of teachers to work with students with challenging behaviors.