The decision to go back to school, either for the first time or to complete a degree that wasn’t finished years ago, is a big one. Taking classes while working or raising a family—or both!—takes plenty of determination and good time management skills.
Undergraduates over the age of 24 are a minority on most campuses, but tough economic conditions are causing more adults to go to college than in years past. If you’re debating whether or not going back to school is right for you, here are eight reasons why enrolling in college might be a good idea:
A better paying job is one of the main reasons that students decide to further their educations, but the rapidly rising cost of college has more and more people wondering if that degree is really worth it. Most researchers believe that it is—a 2011 study found that people who have a bachelor’s degree earn 84% more over their lifetimes than those who only have a high school diploma. In 1999, that statistic was 75 percent, reports the Los Angeles Times.
A study by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools found that less than 10% of the 1,000 employers in various industries surveyed said that colleges did an excellent job when preparing students to enter the work world, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. College graduates who are adults with previous work experience—even if it was in a different field than their degree—are at an advantage over traditional age grads simply because they understand basic office etiquette and how to interact with colleagues as well as supervisors in the workplace.
CNN Money reminds job seekers that although unemployment has become more common due to the recent problems with the economy, a resume gap can make it harder to find a job. Taking classes during your time off from work can not only help improve your chances of being hired, it is a good way to show that you had the initiative to do something to improve your skill set. Concerned about tuition? You might qualify for financial aid grants due to your reduced household income. Fill out the FAFSA at fafsa.ed.gov to learn how you could get help paying for college.
It’s a well-known fact that children learn by example. They are impressionable and pick up on their parents’ habits, both good and bad. According to the Huffington Post, a study by the Institute of Education in the United Kingdom found that public school students with highly educated parents are five times more likely to attend college than students whose parents have few qualifications.
While a college degree is no longer the golden ticket to success it was a decade ago, unemployment rates are considerably lower among college graduates. Yes, “joblessness” is worse than it was before the Great Recession, but The Atlantic reports that people with bachelor’s degrees are experiencing roughly one-half the unemployment rate of people with high school diplomas.
Even though fear can be considered a “negative” motivator, as mentioned in this Psychology Today column, it can cause people to get moving. If you’re stuck in a dead-end job or not quite sure how long you’ll have a job due to layoffs or changes at work, going to school and earning a degree may help you land a new position elsewhere—preferably one that pays more.
Driving to school in rush hour traffic after working all day only to sit in class for two or three hours doesn’t sound appealing to most people, and it’s a factor that causes some to decide against furthering their educations. Online programs that allow students to complete assignments when it’s convenient for them are growing in popularity—the number of students taking at least one of their classes online grew by over nine percent between Fall 2010 and Fall 2011, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. Best-suited for people who can manage their time wisely without procrastinating and those who don’t mind a lack of face-to-face interaction with their instructors, online classes provide a lot more flexibility than regular classes. If you’d prefer a mixture of both, some schools offer hybrid programs comprised of both online and traditional classes.
The explanations above are valid reasons that help many people decide to go back to school, but you should also remind yourself that graduating from college is a big deal! It proves to employers—and to yourself—that you’re able to finish what you start. It’s a big accomplishment that you should be proud of, and it will serve as a reminder for the rest of your life that you’re able to do just about anything if you put your mind to it.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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