Economic insecurity is known to drive adults back to school to improve their educational credentials.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, the thought of returning to school may spring to mind for many adults.
If you are considering going back to school as an adult for a college degree, consider carefully the pros and cons. Let us examine whether it is worth going back to school as an adult for your situation.
Reasons for starting school
When the economy and labor market are in turmoil, it can be difficult to see the silver lining. However, many adults choose to take a course toward higher education to create a better future for their families.
In the fall of 2008, the fallout from the Great Recession was reflected in a sharp rise in college enrollments. Enrollment for the fall of 2008 was 12% higher than in the fall of 2007. And the number of students over the age of 24 rose by 20%.
The reasons adults choose to go back to college vary. However, some of the most common reasons are:
While there are myriad other reasons you might want to return to college, economic hardship could make the difference.
With an unstable job market leading to uncertain job prospects, prospective students may feel that a college degree could be the right way to differentiate themselves from the competition. And with the potential for higher wages after graduation, the benefits of returning to school become easier to see.
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Costs for starting school
When considering returning to college, it is important to understand the financial obligations that you are enrolling for. This is especially true at a time of economic uncertainty. Here are the costs to consider:
Costs faced by all students
Tuition and tuition fees can be extremely high, especially for students who are non-resident or attending private universities. In addition to the basic cost of tuition, you may also have to pay:
The average annual cost of higher education in the 2017-18 academic year was 23,835, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). These costs can be a heavy burden on any budget.
Additional costs for starting school as an adult
As a senior student returning to campus, there are other costs to consider. Unlike your younger students, there is a chance that you may have other financial obligations that add to the total price of college attendance.
Two of the biggest costs you will face are transportation costs and childcare costs. Plus the opportunity cost of lost wages that you could have earned if you hadn’t been to school.
Take some time to determine how these costs would affect your situation. Depending on where you live, there can be significant childcare costs. In addition, leaving a particularly lucrative career would result in a greater loss in lost wages.
Here’s how to prepare for an adult’s return to school
Do you think starting school is the right step for you? Here’s how to prepare for returning to college as a senior student.
Choose the right college
The most important factor in your company’s long-term success is choosing the right college for your needs. Take some time to consider your current time commitments and financial responsibilities. Determine if you are ready to do a full-time return to college or if you need to extend your degree part-time.
When considering these strategies, you should look at different schools and programs that will suit your needs. The degree should not only help you achieve your post-educational goals, it should also align with your planning needs. For example, you may need to consider online school options if you have an especially busy schedule.
Decide how you will pay for your degree
Once you have decided on the right college, the next step is to determine how you will pay for your degree as an adult. The good news is that there are many options to choose from.
First, take a look at the scholarship options. How To Find Scholarships That Can Help You. Also, fill out the FAFSA to determine if you are eligible for grants or other financial assistance.
If you plan to work throughout your education, see if your employer offers educational benefits such as a tuition reimbursement plan. You might be pleasantly surprised with what you find.
Finally, you can use student loans as a means of payment for college. When considering student loans, make sure that you only take out what you absolutely need to cover your educational expenses. And if you already have outstanding student loans, consider whether taking on more student debt is a good decision for your situation.
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Is it worth going back to school as an adult?
As mentioned earlier, the enrollment rate rose sharply during the Great Recession in 2008. However, college graduation rates for this class in 2008 were only 55%.
The adult students who have graduated may have really improved their career opportunities and are doing well in the job market. But many other students may have just taken on new student debt without graduating from it during this time.
In the end, it depends on your individual situation whether it is worth going back to school as an adult. Make sure you have compared the costs and potential benefits of going back to school to youu before making a final decision.
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