December 8, 2008

7 Reasons To Go Back to School

With the unemployment rate reaching a 34-year high, many of those without a job are turning to higher education rather than the job market for their next career move.

With enrollment on the rise at two- and four-year colleges across the country, the question is:  Are you considering pursuing an adult education?  Here are seven reasons to send in your application today.

1) Networking
There is no better place to meet the future movers and shakers of your would-be career field than at college: from your professors to fellow students (especially grad students in professional schools like business and medicine) to university administrators. Of course, college classes can also be filled with slackers, so chose your networking connections carefully.

2) The Pursuit of Knowledge
It’s not called “higher” education for nothing.  A college or advanced degree can open your mind to possibilities you never imagined. Do you thirst for knowledge? Then going back to school may just satisfy your craving for ideas, information and insights.

3) Money

Let’s face it, not everyone pursuing higher education does it because they love the ivory tower lifestyle.  For many, a college degree is a means to an end.  Quite literally. A recent US News & World Report article cites Skidmore economist, Sandy Baum, who estimates that college graduates earn $20,000 a year more than those who hold only a high school diploma. Over a forty-year career, the total differential is about $800,000. The payoffs are even bigger for those who earn advanced degrees. While the average B.A. holder earns $51,000 a year, those with professional degrees (law degrees, medical degrees and PhDs) earn about $100,000 a year.

4) Job Stability
College graduates don’t just earn higher salaries, they also have more job stability — an especially attractive proposition given the current unemployment figures. According to Baum, the unemployment rate for college graduates was just 2.2 percent in 2007 — half that of those with only high school diplomas.  Oh, and P.S. college grads are more likely to have jobs with benefits, like health insurance and retirement plans.

5) Self Respect
For some students, a college degree is nothing more than a piece of paper.  But for others, it represents an accomplishment of immeasurable proportion.  If you fit into the latter category, going back to school might be as much about self respect as it is about higher salaries.

6) Career Advancement
Perhaps your career has stagnated and you have grown weary of banging your head against the glass ceiling. 

An advanced degree can help you smash through the ceiling in a number of industries.  In fact, many companies will even pay for their employees to pursue their Masters or Doctorate level degree in exchange for a long-term commitment to the organization.

7) Killing (Recession) Time
The recession is finite, but an education lasts a lifetime.  So what better way to wait out the recession than at school? Grad school applications are up among seniors this year, as these would-be job seekers read the writing on the wall. (Then again, according to a recent post by the Brazen Careerist, employment rates for college grads is among the lowest in the nation.)

Still not convinced that going back to school is right for you?  You’re not alone. For the other side of the adult education coin, check out this 2007 article from Marty Nemko, The Case Against Going Back to School. Keep in mind as you’re reading that this article was published over a year ago, well before the current recession got underway.  I wonder if the current state of the economy would alter Nemko’s views?

Are you thinking about going back to school?  What’s driving your decision?

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