Imagine, for a moment, being a part of the work force for several years — only to be downsized, outsourced or otherwise pushed out of your job. For the millions of out-of-work Americans affected by the recession and a weakened economy, this scenario unfortunately has become all too familiar.
The current changes in the job market have caused many people to revisit the idea of going to college — particularly for those who have spent years in the work force as high school graduates. And while pursuing a degree later in life might sound daunting, there are some good reasons to consider earning your undergraduate degree even if you are a seasoned employee.
Why Going to College Makes Sense in Your Later Years
The job marketplace is increasingly competitive, and employers are not necessarily retaining workers just because they have longevity with a company. If you do not have a college degree and are pitted against a co-worker who does, all other things being equal, then the degreed worker has the upper hand.
There are other solid reasons to consider earning a college degree. When you go to college after you have been working in the “real world,” you already have a good idea of your passions, talents and desired skill sets. Instead of getting a degree in a field that you might not necessarily love once you are working in it, you can earn a degree in your true area of interest.
One of the best reasons of all to obtain a college degree later is that you will be attending college with the feeling that you actually want to be there. Instead of going to classes and thinking about the frat party coming up this weekend, you are likely to be focusing on your studies.
Simply put, you will rejuvenate yourself with a new found interest in your chosen area of study while taking care of any unfinished business from your youth. In short, you will walk away from your college experience with not only a degree, but also a renewed sense of self-worth resulting from your accomplishments.
How to Prepare for College and Ease the Transition
There can be a bit of a culture shock associated with going to college in your later years. As you look around at the young, fresh faces among you in the classroom, you might second-guess your decision to go back to school.
To make the transition easier, consult with a college planning specialist from the get-go. He or she can direct you toward people, groups and classes where you are likely to meet other people who are also earning degrees later in life. Note that night classes tend to attract older students since many of them are working and going to school.
You also can consider online college degree programs. You won’t get the social interaction of a live classroom, but you will get the benefit of earning a degree without any societal pressures. Just make sure the program is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education–approved accrediting agency.
Make Your Move
Going back to school might not be easy, but it can be one of the smartest career moves you ever make. With an undergraduate degree on your resume, you can up your income, increase your skill sets and broaden your knowledge in a field of study. Best of all, you can attend college as a more mature adult, prepared to handle the rigors of a college education.
About the Author
As a former managing editor of Entrepreneur magazine, Karen E. Spaeder writes frequently on a variety of topics, including college education, financial planning and small business. Her work appears at College Funding Resource, FeliciaGopaul.com, and numerous other blogs and websites. Having majored in English for her undergrad and grad degrees, Karen loves all things language-related, especially the Words With Friends app on her smartphone.