Going Back to School: Is There Ever Such a Thing as Too Late?
There is no doubt that college is a good idea. College graduates, after all, are earning almost 100% more than people who don’t have a degree and that’s even in the lower paying jobs and in the jobs for which a college degree isn’t a requirement. That number intensifies as you move up within the degrees. A Master’s Degree, for example, will net you even more for the same position.
Because of this many young adults are putting off joining the workforce for as long as possible, choosing to go after Master’s Degrees and even Post-Grad or Doctoral Degrees in an attempt to thwart the down economy. The problem with this is, of course, that they are accumulating hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt with no guarantee that the economy will ever turn around with sufficient success to allow them to feel like leaving school is a good thing.
And what if you’ve been out of school for a while? Or, like many older adults, graduated from high school and joined the work force in a time when having a Bachelor’s degree really was optional? Can you really go back to school now? More importantly, should you go back to school now? Or would you be better served waiting things out and hoping for that raise that your boss keeps promising you is on the horizon (if you’re lucky enough to be employed at all)?
All of the numbers point to: Yes. Go Back to School.
That “almost 100% more” figure we quoted earlier isn’t dependent upon a person’s age. Heck, the numbers say that a degree paired with years of practical work experience will make you even more employable than the traditional aged students in your classes.
What Should You Study?
The decision to go back (or to go at all if you’ve never been) is the easiest part of pursuing a college degree as an older person. There is still the matter of deciding what to study. For some of people, it’s easy: their current employers require them to obtain higher degrees in certain fields to move up the ladder. If that’s you and you like that job and want to keep it, congratulations! The hard part is over!
If you’re not as lucky, there are a few things that you should consider, especially if you’re in the unfortunate position of trying to find new employment:
Some professions will always be understaffed. Nursing is a great example of this. Take a look at the classifieds and Craigslist ads for your town. Without a doubt almost every medical clinic and hospital is practically begging for nurses and nurses aides to apply.
How much time do you have? Are you able and willing to commit to going to school full time for the traditional four year degree? Most working adults (and non-working adults) aren’t able to make this commitment. They have families and other obligations eating away at their time. If this describes you, consider pursuing a degree you can get online. Many schools now have accelerated and online degree programs in nursing, business and education. Gwynedd Mercy University also offers an Accelerated Executive Doctorate in Educational Leadership.
Have you considered a trade? It’s true very few of the trade degrees will result in glamorous jobs. It is also true that the demand for trade professionals is incredibly high (probably because all the kids are chasing the glamour). Trade degrees require less of a time commitment and most of the advanced training happens on site, which helps improve your employment prospects once you’ve earned your certification.
Whichever route you choose, know this: the face of the “average” student has changed dramatically even in the last five years. With the economy tanking, more and more people of all ages are choosing to go back to school. This means that you don’t have to worry about being “the Mommy” or “the old guy” anymore. You likely won’t be the only one in any of your classes. And, when you’re finished, you’ll earn a lot more than you would have if you had just stuck it out.
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