Working and Going Back to School

The Rise of Continuing Education

It's never too late to go back to college and get a degree, but it's definitely not the easiest thing in the world to do. Professionals are increasingly realizing the need to not only be more qualified, but to have a more focused and specialized education. The majority of professionals who return to college want to keep up with new technology, improve career prospects and take refresher courses that improve their marketability and salaries.

The shifting labor market

The number of adults or non-traditional students going back to complete their education or apply for higher degrees has been steadily increasing. As the labor market shifts, it is becoming necessary for professionals to update their skills and get specialized degrees that will increase their career status. Getting a higher salary is the number one reason why professionals go back to school.

While it is not easy to adjust to being a student again, colleges are making the process much easier and more flexible, so working professionals can take evening or weekend classes, watch lectures on TV, log in for online classes and choose from many more options. The lengths of many educational programs for professionals have also been adjusted as an incentive.

Earning a degree to get a job vs. a career

The majority of degrees of those going back to school are career oriented, and will have a direct impact on the kind of salaries that they earn. Instead of getting a broad based education, the emphasis now is on career-focused education, even for fields such as arts and science. Look out for degrees with training programs and work experience requirements, which add another dimension to a resume and are often funded by the government through its Employment and Training Administration agency.

Essentials for your return to education

When searching for a school, remember to ask if they offer credit for work or life experience, which is a great way to get a head start. Most MBA programs require a few years of work experience, which is a great way to utilize your experience. Make an appointment with a career advisor to understand requirements, financial aid, potential jobs and career paths.

Before heading back to school, ensure that you have the required level of math, reading and writing skills to be successful at getting a degree. Most schools do offer programs for this purpose. It is essential to have a realistic plan in mind as most adult learners take up to five years to complete a degree while they are working.

Remember to research work-study programs that are sponsored by your company as well as the federal government, to help take care of the costs. Many companies partly or wholly reimburse students' tuition bills each year for continuing education. Getting an online degree is a great way to save on educational costs, since these usually cost a fraction of the cost of regular degrees. Many prestigious universities also offer many online courses, so it's definitely worth checking out. For additional information regarding returning to college, please read Going Back to School as an Adult.

Juggling work and life

The key to balancing professional and educational responsibilities is to research and plan in advance. Besides colleges and universities, there are many other sources for educational information such as community colleges, adult career centers and local community organizations.

Balancing work-life commitments is often the hardest part of continuing one's education, so it is essential to join a school that has flexible timings for classes as well as options of using the Internet. Having a support network at work, at home and in the local community is a great way to deal with the stress levels. Connecting with other adult learners can be a good way for getting much needed moral support.

The importance of local resources and networks

The national and local centers for adult education are good sources of information for finding support, whether emotional, educational or financial. Most states have their own programs to encourage working professionals to earn higher degrees as well as complete unfinished education, such as Career Pathways in Ohio, which works to create a conducive and productive atmosphere for returning students. There are many state and federal programs that assist in job placements as well.



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