There's been conversation around the necessity of post-secondary education in the news recently. The rising costs of higher education have led a number of would-be students to delay pursuing diplomas or degrees in favor of joining the workforce.
Even if you found a good job immediately out of high school, it's never too late to further your education, because not all college students are just out of high school anymore. Today, higher education is full of more options than ever before, and it attracts people in all phases of life.
Not sure about heading back to school? Below are a few reasons why it could be a good idea for you.
There are many alternatives to the traditional four-year college
A growing number of college students are over the age of 25 — many of them with families and part- or full-time jobs. Between 2003 and 2013, this demographic increased by 19 percent, and it's expected to continue growing.
Part of the reason why so many new college students chose not to attend traditional four year colleges immediately out of high school is the growth in popularity of two-year colleges, many of which offer training in careers such as health information technology or medical billing and coding. Some may refer to two-year colleges as career colleges or vocational schools.
If you want to return to school, four-year universities aren't the only option. Even if a bachelor's degree in nursing is your end goal, you can get a head start with a diploma or associate degree in nursing (ADN), which may give you a foot in the door before you further your education.
You could raise your earning potential
A degree may increase your chances of a steady paycheck. A study by the Nexus Research and Policy Center and the American Institutes for Research recently asked the question, “What's the value of an associate degree?” It found that in California, graduates with associate degrees individually ended up earning an average of $352,011 more over the course of a 40-year career than an individual with a high school diploma.
You widen your scope of career opportunities
Of course, getting a degree isn't just about finding a job with higher pay, it's also about expanding your opportunities. In healthcare, those opportunities are often numerous and diverse.
At allied healthcare schools, you can earn associate degrees in medical billing and coding, healthcare IT, health and human services, healthcare management or nursing, all of which are only the first step in moving forward. For instance, a diploma program could qualify you for a job as a nursing assistant which in turn is a great stepping stone toward seeking your associate or bachelor's degree.
You open the door to a field with rising employment rates
Healthcare is a rapidly growing field. Healthcare occupations have some of the fastest growing job outlooks in the U.S. right now. This is partly due to the coverage expansion brought on by healthcare reform, which means the demand for most positions will only grow in the coming years.
Some programs offer you real-world experiences and contacts
Going back to school isn't always about just earning a degree. Part of the benefit of higher education is an expanding network of contacts. Another major advantage is the real-world experience you can earn while attending externship or clinicals at sites such as hospitals, medical clinics or doctors’ offices and talking with medical professionals. These are opportunities you can't find inside the classroom, which can make them all the more valuable.
Take advantage of grants and scholarships
Many students don't take advantage of the numerous grants and scholarships available to them if they qualify, and we recommend that you don't make the same mistake. Figure out what you qualify for in federal financial aid then seek out as much supplementary funding from other sources that you can qualify for. Look to local and national organizations, community groups or even the school itself. If you take out loans, consider subsidized federal loans. The government will pay the interest on these loans while you're in school.
Originally posted: December 31, 2014
Last updated: January 9, 2017