Published on 2012/07/27

Is Ongoing Education for Adults Worth the Cost of Admission?

The New York Times recently conducted a poll to find out more about the increasing numbers of adults returning to higher education.

In all, reporters Marjorie Connelly, Marina Stefan and Andrea Kayda discovered that a third of adults in the United States have gone back to school since 2007 for additional training. While less than a third of those adults who returned have found a new job or secured a promotion, most responded that they considered their education a good investment of time and money.

According to the survey, 80 percent of respondents who returned for more training are already employed, and 76 percent of adults enrolled in higher education are under the age of 45.

The survey also shows great strides are being made towards reaching the President’s goal of 60 percent degree attainment by 2020; two-thirds of adults continuing their education are without a four-year degree.

Ryan Shandy, an associate’s degree holder who worked with design engineers, told the Times he pursued continuing education to advance his career.

“The industry is changing rapidly so I decided to go back and take a couple of classes. I studied an advanced program to get a leg up and be better at what I do.”

However, ongoing learning can be an expensive proposition and the debt one can accrue makes it extremely important for students to be sure they are enrolled in a program they enjoy and can translate into work opportunities.

Quashana Hobbs, who told the Times she was “drowning” in debt, was pursuing a master’s degree in business until she lost her borrowing power and realized the subject matter did not interest her.

“It was the most expensive mistake I’ve ever made in my life,” she said.

Hobbs is part of the 39 percent of students the Times surveyed who confirmed that they had taken out a student loan. Another adult student who took out a loan, Isra Elkhazin, told the Times that after being laid off and unable to find work in her field, she took a five-month skin-care certificate program and immediately found work.

“I’m not too concerned about the loan I took out to do the course,” she said. “After taking the course… I got a job right away working at a medical spa doing laser treatments.”

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