Whatever your age, a college degree is critical for job stability, career progression, and overall employability. Take unemployment -- the employment rate is dramatically higher for people who have obtained higher levels of education. In 2015, among 20- to 24-year-olds, the employment rate was 89% for those with a college degree and 51% for those who didn’t complete high school.
If you’re considering going back to college, sooner is better. By 2020, it’s expected that over 65% of all jobs will require some postsecondary education and training compared to 1973, where only 28% of U.S. jobs required a degree or certificate. Additionally, a higher percentage of jobs created during the economic recovery went to workers with at least some college education. A breakdown:
- 35% of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree;
- 30% of job openings will require some college or an associate’s degree
In this job economy, if you don’t have some form of higher education—whether a technical certificate or an associate or bachelor’s degree—you may be passed over for a promotion or limit your career progression. If you are looking to change careers, without a degree, you might not be considered for a job interview regardless of how much on-the-job experience you already have.
If you are a working adult and haven’t yet considered taking classes online, now’s the time to do so. Not only do online classes fit busy schedules, they can offer significant cost savings for degree seekers.
Should I Go Back to College At 30?
Over the past twenty years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more than 31 million students have enrolled in college and left without receiving a degree or certificate. This leaves opportunities and money on the table. By earning your degree in your 30s, you can enjoy the benefits of being a degree holder over a longer period of time. By completing your degree, you can get on track for a promotion at work, career stability, and to earn 46% more than workers who have some college credits but no degree.
If you are performing well on the job but aren’t being considered for management positions because of your education, your 30s are an ideal time to complete your degree. Going back to school while working is a powerful way to show your commitment to growing your skills. It also shows that you have the determination and grit to succeed on--and off--the job.
Says Calvin Duker, a 30-something working in the financial services industry, “I wanted to finish up my bachelor’s degree for 2 major reasons. First, I already have sixteen years of work experience, but companies usually require a 4-year degree for the positions I’m interested in. By going back to school, I’ll be able to get promoted into another department.”
A college degree shows a company that you are motivated, you have good communication skills, and that you are willing to learn on (and off) the job. This makes it easier for employers to:
- Reward you with a higher salary for increased performance
- Give you higher profile assignments and great responsibilities
- Invest in your success and consider you for promotions
Should I Go Back to College At 40
Going back to college after 40 can be a big decision. Older students often have more financial and family commitments than younger people. However, older students often have a very clear idea of what they want out of their degree and the experience and know-how to persist in spite of obstacles.
For example, Wayne Brown, a 40-something Liberty University student decided to go back to school after working in law enforcement for over 25 years. He’s retiring from his first career but recognizes he’ll need a college degree in his next. “I plan on continuing to work in a criminal justice related field, but it’s kind of strange,” says Wayne, “to find myself towards the end of my first career at the age of 46, and preparing for my next job.”
If you are over the age of 40 and thinking of going back to school, be sure to check out if your company offers an employee tuition reimbursement program or convenient online education options. Earning your degree at any age can be a smart strategy for anyone with ambition to take their career to the next level.
How Can I Go Back to College At 50?
Has it been a few years (or decades) since your last final exam? Do you have lots of credits but no degree? It’s never been easier to pick up some new knowledge and skills, and improve your career prospects in the process -- no matter your age.
The number of older workers is on the rise. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of employment data from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, a higher percentage of older Americans are now working than at any other time since the turn of the century, and today’s older workers are spending more time on the job. As employees stay in the workplace longer and delay their retirement, you will be facing more competition in your age bracket. A college degree can help you stand out.
If you are an over-50 student, a great way to backup your experience is by taking online courses. Online education is an excellent option for experienced working adults —and it provides a convenient opportunity for anyone looking to stay current in a competitive job market to affordably complete a college degree.
Times have changed. In the global economy, there is significant value placed on highly skilled, trained, and educated employees. An individual with life and work experience can actively stabilize their career and advance more rapidly with two simple words on their resume: college graduate.