Not Just About Extra Money
Many studies show a direct relationship between levels of education and income. One released a few years back by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, listed the weekly average for those with an advanced degree at $1,361, those with only a bachelor degree at $1,038, and $734 for those with just some college or an associate’s degree.
However, hoped for extra income isn’t the only thing that’s bringing working adults back to institutions of higher learning. Explains Dr. Joyce A. Strawser, dean, Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall: “A lot of our adult students come looking to refresh their skills. They might have a degree in a specialty they got even just five years ago … and have to refresh,” because things have changed so much in that specialty.
Prospects, when it comes to career building, are also improved with an advanced degree. Strawser cites a study that found that more than 9 in 10 US companies plan to hire MBA grads in 2016, up from 80 percent in 2014.
And then, of course, there’s the networking possibilities of such programs. “Students studying with other working professionals make [potentially useful] contacts,” Strawser says.
Pressure to improve workplace skills with more education often comes from employers, says Janice Recca, assistant director of graduate admissions, Fairleigh Dickinson University. “Nurses in hospitals [for example] are now strongly encouraged to get an MS.”
Many of the mid-career professionals who come to us already have a lot of education, says Dr. Michael Williams, dean of the School of Business and Management, Thomas Edison State College. But it may no longer be enough for their present job or the job they hope to get. “They need those extra management skills,” he says.
Acquisition of more skills for a particular job may not be the only thing some working adults seek in post-graduate studies. Something more basic may be the goal. While you may not see a bigger payback in the first year, notes Christopher Romano, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah, “there’s intrinsic value in getting critical thinking abilities enhanced in a traditional liberal arts school” setting.
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