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6 Reasons Why Adult Learning Is the New Norm

6 Reasons Why Adult Learning Is the New Norm

Thinking about returning to college as an adult? Wouldn’t that be too hard, considering you already have work and family responsibilities? According to millions of Americans just like you, it’s more doable than you may assume. Especially if you opt for online or hybrid classes that offer increased flexibility. Worried about the return on investment? Well, you’ll be happy to know the payoff can be considerable — $1.2 million over a lifetime, in fact. That’s how much more those with bachelor’s degrees earn over the course of their careers than those with only a high school education.

So if you’re thinking of returning to school as an adult learner, there’s never been a better time. Here’s what you need to know about adult learners and the argument for earning a degree, no matter your age.

Adult Learners

Who are adult learners? They’re the moms and dads, young professionals, middle-aged craftsmen, and even the grandparents who make up our communities. They’re the people who didn’t have the opportunity or desire to attend college after high school but would now like to do so for any number of reasons.

According to the EAB, adult learners are those over the age of 25 who have enrolled in college classes. Perhaps surprisingly, they comprise roughly half of all college enrollments. That’s why you should disregard anyone who tells you it’s too late to go back to school. Odds are good there will be other adult learners joining you in class, trying to improve their job marketability, or increase their potential for promotion.

Why It’s Never Too Late to Go Back to College

There’s no age limit for going back to college. In fact, it may take years to figure out exactly what you want to do with your life. In a perfect world, we would all be gifted with this magic knowledge on the eve of our high school graduations. Sadly, this rarely happens. Instead, we leave high school, find jobs we can tolerate, and set out earning a living, starting a family, or building a career. Sometimes it’s not until much later that our vision becomes clear, and we suddenly know where our passions lie.

When this happens, going back to college to earn a degree is often integral for Adult Learners to making your new career aspirations a reality. 

1. Career Advancement

According to the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities, earning a bachelor’s degree can make you half as likely to be unemployed as compared to high school graduates. 53 percent of participants in a Pew Research Center survey said they felt lacking a bachelor’s degree prevented from landing jobs for which they felt qualified.

In other words, going back to college is an excellent investment that can help you advance in your chosen career. It can open doors for you that are firmly closed to those without a college degree.

2. Higher Earning Potential

In addition to great opportunities for promotion comes higher earning potential. In 2020, the median annual salary for those with a bachelor’s degree was $59,600. Those with a high school diploma earned a median of $36,600, a difference of $23,000 annually. That’s a strong argument in favor of returning to school, regardless of industry.

3. Goal Fulfillment

For some, earning a degree is not so much about earning more money or rising more quickly through the ranks as it is about personal development. College classes increase your knowledge of the world, and they can improve your industry-specific knowledge. Therefore, if your goal is to master a new software program or learn more about how to become a good manager, the college classroom is an ideal place to begin.

4. Continued Learning

Continuing education classes are also popular options among adult learners. Classes that teach you how to drive a car, become a master gardener, or write fiction may be helpful for those wishing to broaden their horizons. While classes such as these typically don’t award college credits, they do teach important skills that can vastly improve the quality of life for those who participate.

5. New Career Aspirations

Maybe you’re considering a return to college because you want to alter the direction of your current career. Adults who are displeased with the trajectory of their careers often return to school to change course. There’s no rule that says you must stay in a job you dislike or a career that you feel is wrong for you. Returning to college to earn a degree in an entirely different field could be the best choice you’ll ever make.

6. More Options Now Than Ever

With so many adult learners already enrolled in college courses, there are now more opportunities than ever to return to school. Online and hybrid instruction make it easier to schedule classes around work and family responsibilities, and they reduce or eliminate the need to make a daily commute to and from campus. Online classes may also be a more affordable option as financial aid is often  available for those who qualify.

Going Back to College

What should you expect as an adult learner returning to college? Will you be surrounded by teenagers fresh out of high school? Will your instructors be younger than you? Common fears expressed by adult learners returning to college include:

  • Not fitting in
  • Not being able to afford a degree
  • Earning a degree will be too time-consuming
  • It will take too long
  • Employers won’t recognize the degree (especially online degrees)
  • Not learning anything of value

So, if you’re having these feelings, you’re far from alone. Rest assured, in most instances, your fears turn out to be unfounded. You’ll find yourself surrounded by an interesting mix of people from different walks of life, and you’ll learn new and valuable skills that employers will recognize. You may even make some new friends along the way and end up cherishing your college experience, even though it came later in life than you intended.

Earn Your Degree, Today

Are you ready to return to college? If so, we invite you to explore the many benefits offered by Carson-Newman University. Carson-Newman is a Christian university that offers more than 60 degree options. Regardless of where you want to focus your career, we can help you get there. We offer both online and hybrid learning experiences that make attendance easier and more affordable for adult learners. Contact us today to find out why Carson-Newman University is an ideal choice for non-traditional students returning to school after a long hiatus.

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