Leveraging College to Change Careers
The decision to change your career can be an agonizing decision. Below we have assembled a couple questions that are designed to spark an impactful conversation about how to navigate the process of going back to college and if it makes sense for your career.
As you know, the variables involved in changing career not only affects you but your family as well. Changing your career can also directly or indirectly impact those close to you, your friends, your social acquaintances, and those in your community.
Knowing the challenges and prospective issues with changing careers, this segment of the U.S. population has been growing faster than any other demographic in recent years as the vocational landscape continues to evolve. In fact, the reasons for this shift to change careers can vary from city to city and state to state but the macroeconomics point towards a shift in employment needs and influence of automation & technology. These needs may be industry-specific (ie. textiles, manufacturing, software, finance) and/or location-based that include varying degrees of influence from demographics, technology, productivity, innovation and a host of other factors.
Does it make sense to go back to change careers at this point in your life?
Like most questions about your future, the answer is a personal decision. Depending on your goals, aspirations, and resources it may make sense to find the time and energy to enroll in a college as an adult. It is well documented that a college degree has a positive impact on your earning ability compared to those without a college degree. In fact, the United States Census Bureau has published a study revealing a person with a bachelor’s degree earns nearly twice what a person with a high school diploma earns.
In addition to the income difference, employment stability is a real factor. In other words, the more stable and employable a person is the better off they are during times of economic uncertainty. To underscore this point, the Pew Institute published a report indicating the unemployment rate for holders of a high school diploma at 12.2% while the unemployment rate for a person with a bachelor’s degree was 3.8%. Put another way, holding a bachelor’s degree put a person in a situation to earn twice as much and more than twice as stable as only a high school diploma.
How do I afford college as an adult learner?
It is well documented that the majority of corporations over one hundred employees have some form of tuition assistance. Empowered with that information may encourage you to work while attending school as your employer will be further vested in your success. If you do not work for a large employer or are not currently working, you will want to research a wide array of grants, scholarships, and fellowship programs once you identify a school and specific degree. You will be working closely with the college or universities financial aid team to determine what options are available to you. Take full advantage of this resource and be prepared to invest substantive time completing applications, meeting with counselors, and engaging with a variety of providers.
From a social standpoint, what will college life be life as an adult learner?
Going back to college as an adult will take a shift in mindset to be sure. The most common perception of a college student is a student just out of high school making the transition to college. The reality is that the perception of a young college student is blending with the reality of older students.
The Washington Post published an article detailing this shift from younger students to older students with some interesting data. A few of the highlights include: nearly half of enrolled college students are older than 21, only 41% live on-campus, 63% are full-time students, 28% have children, and 62% of students work in addition to going to college. Nonetheless, an adult learner will need to make an effort to integrate into a classroom setting and focus on the task at hand in order to succeed. Each of us has something valuable to learn from others and maintaining a lifelong learner mindset will serve everyone best.
What is the best way to learn my options for a career change?
The best way to get started is to take action. Be proactive to learn something new every day. Take the time to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Juxtapose that information with the employment needs in your locale to arrive a vocational overlap between what you love doing and what is viable in the marketplace. Once you have a working understanding of your educational trajectory, visit MatchCollege and search by degree or college. The information listed on each school will give you a better understanding of their curricular offerings.