A Guide on How to Go Back to College: Part Two

Career Focus on Fast Growing Occupations and Academic Inventory

By Beth Dumbauld

Let’s recap. You have determined you want to go back to college. You have determined the benefits, like the fact that a typical bachelor’s degree graduate can expect to earn about 66% more over a 40-year working1 lifetime, far outweighing the costs in terms of rising tuition rates and time. You have gone through the steps to look at your skills, interests, and work values. And let’s face it, the personal inventory has exposed one critically important trait for a college student, particularly if you’ve gotten this far: you are determined.

Determination is a good thing, even critical, for an individual committed to staying the course in higher education. If you’ve come this far, you’ve already performed the tasks necessary to conduct an effective personal inventory. This inventory gave you greater insight into possible careers in fields that suit your particular set of interests, values and skills. Now, you’re ready to look externally. It’s time to steer your path toward the overall job market and see how your areas of interest fit in so you can fine-tune your academic path and plan your return to college in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

Career Focus

As you narrow in on possible careers after college, your possible college major and areas of interest will also begin to take focus. At this stage, developing a career plan can be extremely helpful. The more you know where you’d like your college path to take you, the better equipped you will be to decide what gaps you may have in your education and take steps to remediate them. As you move forward to college, you will want a budget and schedule that fits your situation. Additionally, the more informed you are about your career goals, the better you’ll be able to pursue a right-for-you higher education program so you can graduate with an appropriate college degree that truly will help achieve your dreams.

Furthermore, if you know what possible career paths2 you are considering, you’ll be better able to plan realistically what your expected college costs versus financial payoffs will be given specific degrees and careers upon graduation.

Will There Be a Job Opening When I Graduate?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, here are the predicted areas of highest job growth between 2008 and 2018. Rates of new job growth and opportunities for job openings rise because new jobs are created and because workers retire or leave the field for other reasons.3

Occupations with The Most Job Openings: Bachelor’s Degree

Occupation and Total Job Openings 2008-20184

Elementary School Teachers, except special education (597,000)

Accountants and Auditors (498,000)

Secondary school teachers, except special vocation education (412,00)

Middle school teachers, except special vocation education (251,000)

Computer systems analysts (223,000)

Computer software engineers (218,000)

Network systems and data communications analysts (208,000)

Computer software engineers, systems software (153,000)

Construction managers (138,000)

Market research analysts (137,000)

1 College Board, Education Pays 2010, Lifetime Earnings

2 US Bureau of Labor Statistics, What do you Like?, 2010

3 College Board, Hottest Careers for College Graduates: Experts Predict Where the Jobs Will Be in 2018