Go Back to College at any Age: Over 50 and College Part 4

The Over 50 Student: An Exercise in Offense and Defense

In this slow moving economy, current and future employees are looking to distinguish themselves from the pack. There is a growing number students going back to college each year, no matter their age, and the over 50 set is increasing their enrollment in postsecondary institutions right along with them. In fact, total undergraduate enrollment in degree granting postsecondary institutions increased from 7.4 million students in 1970 to 13.2 million in 2000 to 17.6 million in 2009. According to projections by the National Center for Education Statistics, undergraduate enrollment is expected to reach 19.6 million by 2020.10

Given that older workers have been hit heavily by the downturn (perhaps even you have been hit hard); they have also been returning back to college to update their resume and give themselves an edge. You can return to college as well.

Where do you stand? More than half of unemployed workers ages 55 and older have been unemployed for six months or more, compared to 40 percent of workers under 55, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And older workers tend to stay out of work longer: The average unemployed worker over 55 spends more than 52 weeks looking for a job, almost 50 percent longer than younger workers.11 A return to higher education is a forward looking, offensive move that can help refresh a resume, increase and update jobs skills, and make an individual stand out in this, or any, job market.

Why Not Today?

As employees intend to stay longer in the workplace and delay their retirement, refreshing a career by going back to college and earning a degree may prove the best payoff. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that between 2006 and 2016, the number of workers ages 55-64 will rise by 36.5 percent, and the number of workers ages 65-74 and 75 and older will increase by more than 80 percent.12

Though some over-50 students return to college for personal enrichment reasons, the majority do not. In a study performed in 2007, it was found that four out of five students over the age of 40 were taking college courses not for personal enrichment but to improve their skills and marketability in the workplace.13

College can propel you forward at any age. As a highly focused older student looking to make your mark in the workplace, or perhaps take a step forward and get back into the work place, you can take that first step towards your college degree. Don’t delay. Research your options today.

10 National Center for Education Statistics, Undergraduate Enrollment, Indicator 8-2011.

11 Hill, Catey, Smart Money, Is Going Back to School Over 50 Worth it? 7/18/2011, p.1

12 Community Colleges: Ageless Learning, Plus 50 Students: Tapping into a Growing Market, p.1.

13 IBID, p.2.

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