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Adult learning can be a big step for people. If you’ve decided to go back to school as an adult learner, the phrase ‘you can’t please people all of the time’ may now be truer than ever. In one camp, people may be happy for you, fully behind your decision to go back to school. In another camp, people may be querying the new path you’re taking, perhaps outright expressing that, in their eyes, adult learning for you is a big mistake.
While it’s difficult sometimes to brush off the negative opinions others have of the life choices you make, especially if these opinions are being heard from your family, you also know the only opinion that really matters in the end is the opinion you have of yourself.
Still, with that being said, it’s always empowering to have some facts and figures on hand that can back up the major decisions you make in your life. So here are 3 quick stats about adult learning to, if not sway doubting family members over to your side, get your family thinking about your going back to school in a more positively-tinged light.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that 73 percent of higher education students are what’s called non-traditional students. While there isn’t a definitive definition to describe non-traditional student, there are common characteristics that these students share either in part, or whole, such as not furthering their education immediately after high school, studying part-time, being a single parent, holding down a job of some sort, and being financially independent. The point is, other people just like you, are pursuing adult learning — and they’re doing so in great numbers. And being successful. You’re not the first to make the decision to go back to school as an adult learner, and you won’t be the last. You’re part of a movement.
Non-traditional students have changed the face of higher education, which is education beyond high school – quite literally. There are now more older student faces on campus than ever before. According to NCES , 16 percent of students enrolled at public 2-year institutions in 2013 were aged 25 to 34 years of age, and 11 percent were aged 35 years and older. Private non-profit 2-year institutions and private for-profit institutions showed the same high percentage enrollments for students 25 years of age and older. The lesson learned here is you’re never too old to go back to school. Other adult learners are fitting right in on campus. And there’s no reason why you can’t too. Your school days don’t have to remain in the past.
You may not want to enroll in a 4-year degree, for reasons of cost or time, and are instead looking to enroll in a shorter educational program that offers certification or licensure to prepare you for a specific occupation, such as working in health care as a medical assistant or pharmacy technician, and in technical and legal occupations. These cost-effective, non-degree awards are designed to take less than 2-years to achieve, and many less than a year. They can also be the stepping stone to a full degree in some cases. In January 2015, The Bureau of Labor Statistics added questions to the Current Population Survey to identify people with professional certifications and licenses. It’s hardly surprising that survey results showed adult learners achieving certifications increased their employment prospects and earning power in the job market. It was found that people who held a certification or license had an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent nationally, as opposed to an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent nationally for those people who didn’t hold a certification or license. Additionally, people with a certification or license earned about one-third more than those without these credentials.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who have their family fully supporting your going back to school, you’re in great shape. After all, nobody said going back to school was going to be easy. Having your family on your side is definitely going to be a huge plus when the going gets tough. Think, needing someone to do a few extra household chores while you study, for example.
But if you’ve family members who are dead set against your going back to school, all is not lost. Maybe they just need some time to let the idea sink in that you’re going be doing something different with your life. And also, maybe just a few good reasons, politely dropped into the conversation, to allay their concerns, worries, and fears, why adult learning for you, and a lot of people, makes perfectly sound sense.
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