Learning never stops, but education looks differently for everyone.
Adult learners make up about 40% of postsecondary college students, which is typically defined as anyone other than 25 years old. There are roughly 35 million adults age 25 and over with some college and no degree. Although COVID-19 has impacted the rate at which adults are returning to college, there is still a large group of “non-traditional” prospective students looking to earn degrees.
But, of course, there are important considerations to make before heading to school. Cost is one.
Although Biden’s recent student debt relief announcement is a positive step for millions of students (past or present), it signals a huge issue that has plagued US college-goers for decades now: astronomical tuition fees.
The Department of Education estimates that 45 million Americans have taken out about $1.6 trillion dollars in student loans and are unable to pay it back.
But fortunately, there are some steps that can be taken to avoid some pitfalls of returning to school. Here are a few things you should give thought to before strapping on that backpack.
Adulting ain’t easy.
The typical 18-year-old doesn’t have the same responsiblities as someone over 30, so when considering taking time-intensive courses, make sure you have a full scope of your day-to-day obligations.
Finding balance between family, work and school commitments are paramount. Consider online universities or programs that offer evening or early morning classes if a 9-5 job is going to make it tough to fit classes in during the day. Also, work with your professors to ensure they know what to expect from you as a student.
On average, tuition can cost up to between $9,000 and $14,000 per semster and that’s on the low-end. Although scholarships, grants and loans make it possible to cover the cost without paying out of pocket, it’s important to give serious thought to which option makes the most sense for you.
How much will a degree really cost you? And how much is it worth? Those questions may sound the same, but take a closer look.
When considering whether the opportunity cost of college is worth the time and effort, a potential student should consider the opportunity cost of not attending college. The average salary in 2022 for college graduates is $55,260, according to a National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey. This figure is 2.5% higher than the starting salaries of the 2021. Visit sites like salary.com, Indeed, Glassdoor, and Payscale to stay abreast of current salaries, and how correlative your degree will be.
Additionally, connecting with people on LinkedIn with the same degree, and speaking to them about their journey may be worth doing when conducting early research before enrolling.
Overall, everyone deserves an education but college experiences are not one size fits all. But with careful consideration, you could easily find yourself walking across the stage and into the rest of your life.