There's an interesting trend occurring in a lot of universities and colleges lately, and it's not larger dorms with dream closets (we wish)! Older Americans are heading back to school, with an estimated 64 percent expected to enroll in the next two years.
While a sluggish economy might give the impression things are at a standstill, 89 percent of Americans consider further education as an effective factor in professional growth. With older college students including first-timers, stay-at-home moms and those returning to finish or pursue advanced degrees, numerous studies state women over the age of 25 make up for 60 percent of online students today. The National Center for Education Statistics predicts this uptrend will continue.
Lower Risk of Unemployment
As the U.S. Department of Labor reports the unemployment rate was at 5.5 percent in May 2015, it's realistic to fear job loss. But as the University of Wisconsin discovered, college graduates found employment at a higher rate than those with a high school diploma, and also stayed working longer. Getting your degree might take time, but when you head back, you start learning immediately and that's beneficial to your job.
Improve Your Focus
As older adults, we tend to stay focused on short and long-term goals better and we're rid of some of the distractions that plague us when we're younger. With an unparalleled concentration and discipline to complete objectives, older college students overcome procrastination and become more fine-tuned to stay focused. According to Scientific American, every new piece of information absorbed through complete focus is "mental calisthenics," which means your brain gets stronger.
Advance Your Career
While we all want to advance our careers as quickly as possible, heading back to earn a degree can help you gain skills and knowledge necessary for a higher-level position in the long term. When you finally take the leap and balance the juggling act, tell co-workers and superiors. This kind of ambition not only looks good on you, but also shows great drive, dedication, and hard work — and you might be eligible for employer tuition assistance or course credit. Aside from the time commitment, going back to school really positions your abilities and boosts your credentials for a better career.
Feel More Financially Secure
Consider higher education a lifelong investment. Sure, it's expensive, and the costs alone cause working adults to re-evaluate, but a salary increase attained from further education can often balance the cost of returning to school. Besides feeling more economically secure, the U.S. Department of Labor reports those who receive a bachelor's degree earn 70 percent more than those with a high school diploma do. Especially if you are investing wisely and getting out of debt, the online route is an ideal option to advance your career at the fraction of the cost so you don't fall behind with finances.
Health is wealth, but did you know college graduates are healthier than high school graduates are? The University of Wisconsin found obesity rates for women with a high school diploma were at 39 percent, but dropped to 26 percent for women with a bachelor's degree or higher. In the same study, we find part of the reason -- college students report improved well-being through exercise, diet, and dropping bad habits like smoking.
Set an Example for Others0comments
When you head back to school, you have the chance to prove not just to yourself how education is a valuable asset, but to others — especially your children. The National Institute of Health states that the parents' educational level when their child is eight years old helps foresee the child's educational and occupational success 40 years later. While jobs aren't guaranteed, such endeavors become an outline on which your children can base their own decisions.
From valuing yourself to boosting confidence through various topics and thinking, pursuing academic studies helps you face personal fears while generating a positive outlook on life. By creating independence from the status quo, many older college students report overall life and relationship satisfaction when they pursued their passions. Heading back to college when you're older helps find what you hope to achieve, while providing a better sense of self to fulfill your own dreams. After all, we never stop learning.