Did unforeseen circumstances prevent you from going to college? Are you in the work force now and longing to go back and get your education? Have you thought about a master of business administration degree or a family studies degree? Now’s your time! Indeed, you could actually be losing money by not having your degree — not going to college could wind up costing you about a half million dollars (when you consider the average amount of additional wages that people with college degrees are paid). In 2013, Americans who had four-year college degrees made around 98% more per hour than those without a degree — so what are you waiting for? Here’s how to get back into the academic game — and how to juggle your life (job, kids, transportation, costs) around getting your education. We promise it can be done!
Why Is Having a College Degree So Important?
Unfortunately, there does tend to be a stigma towards people who do not have a college education, as you may have experienced yourself, firsthand. Even though those who don’t attend college may have considerably more practical and useful experience than those with a college degree, book learning counts for a good deal.
As mentioned above, having a college degree can substantially boost your salary. A 2012 Pew Research report showed findings that employees who had the minimum of a bachelor’s degree earned a median annual income of $45,500, whereas those who only had some college education earned $30,000, and those with only a high school diploma made around $28,000. And, your job options may also widen. Many jobs that pay competitively and on salary require at least a bachelor’s degree to apply. Someone with a family studies degree, for example, will get a much higher salary than someone without one.
So, though you’re spending money to get your degree, over 80% of those who have gone to college said that it paid off in the long run.
And, of course, let’s not forget the specialized skills you’ll gain by attending college. Many colleges are liberal arts colleges, requiring students to gain a more well-rounded education in courses that may not be their primary focus (for example, mathematics majors may be required to take English or history courses, whereas English majors may have to take science and math courses). And within the area you’re studying, college courses are designed to adequately prepare you for that field. Furthermore, colleges can also offer connections and opportunities that can be much harder to attain on your own. Whether you’re interested in a family studies degree or a psychology program, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need.
What Should I Look For in a College as a Non-Traditional Student?
If you work a full time job and are also supporting a family with young children, finding spare hours in the day can be truly difficult. A university that offers night classes — or even weekend classes — and online classes can offer an alternative for those who want their degree. Some colleges and universities who cater towards non-traditional students will actively advertise these hours, so be on the lookout.
Location and Transportation
You have to get to college in order to attend classes. A campus that has good transportation, adequate parking, and is located in a relatively central area are all perks. If parking lots are far away from the central campus, see if the university or college offers free shuttle buses to academic buildings from the parking lot. For those who may not own a car, looking for a college that has good access to public transportation is crucial.
There’s no getting around it. College is expensive, even if you’re commuting from home and not paying room and board. Tuition, books, supplies, fees, transportation costs, and more all add up. However, scholarships can help offset those costs and make things more manageable for you.
A family studies degree or other type of specialized degree can go a long way towards helping you achieve the future you want.