At some point in time in most every working adult's life, they've wondered, is going back to college worth it? It may be that they're looking for a promotion or raise at work. Or perhaps they've realized their dream career is in another field. Maybe it's that they want the satisfaction of finally earning the college degree they never finished. If these feelings sound familiar, then you might be asking yourself that same question: When it comes to college, is it a wise investment or a waste of time?
It's not an easy answer. But considering carefully the industry you are in (or want to be in), your employer, and the skills you want to learn is a good place to start.
Every industry values education differently. Finding out as much about your current industry or the one you want to switch to can provide excellent information. Remember to consider what the industry is like now, as well as where it's going. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great place to start.
Looking to stay with your current company? Make sure going back to school will help you get ahead. Having an honest conversation with your employer about your goals and what will help you reach them can help you decide if college is the right choice.
The type of skills you need to learn can help tell you whether or not you should go back to college, and what type of program you need. Are you training for an entirely new field? Looking to learn additional skills to help you advance in your current role? Or, are you brushing up on the basics after being out of the workforce for awhile? Thinking about these questions can help you decide what path is right for you.
Beyond these key factors, there are hard data points that can help. Several research studies focus on whether or not a college education is a good investment. Here are six numbers from those studies that can help you decide whether college is worth your time, money and effort.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 8.1 million college students over the age of 25 enrolled in college in 2015. That's about 41% of all students enrolled in college that same year! The largest grouping of adult students were those over the age of 35. This trend of adults going back to college signals that the decision is one worth considering no matter your age.
As reported by the Associated Press, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) says the earning gap between high school graduates and college graduates is widening. According to EPI, college graduates typically earn 56% more than high school graduates.
Measuring the worth of a college education on increased income alone can give you an incomplete picture. Income, even among people with the same level of education, can depend on the industry, job and geographic location. Plus, as the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) points out, gender, race and ethnicity play factors as well. Still, the CEW reported that over a lifetime a bachelor's degree is worth $2.8 million in earnings.
However, having a good job does not necessitate having a bachelor's degree. Another report from CEW found there are 30 million "good jobs" that do not require a bachelor's degree. These are positions that are commonly known as middle-skill or skilled service jobs and require some college, such as an associate degree.
The average college graduate leaves school with $34,000 in student debt! That's what analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found. How to pay for tuition is obviously a big choice for all students, but especially adult college students since they often have families to care for and may continue to work while pursuing an education. But, taking out student loans is not the only option. Following a strict budget, finding scholarships, searching for a flexible program that allows you to work while going to school, and research into affordable payment plans are all ways to pay for school without student loans.
When it comes to deciding whether college is worth it, it helps to talk to people who've been there. That's exactly what the Pew Center for Research did, and they found that 62% of college alumni feel their time in college was “Very useful in helping them grow personally and intellectually.” On top of those responses, 53% said college was helpful in receiving job opportunities and 49% said college helped them develop skills and knowledge they use at work.
No matter what you decide, preparing to go back to college is a personal choice. Think it overand be sure to define success beyond just increased income. There's a lot to be gained fromcollege that can improve everything you do!
If you’ve taken any prescription medications, you’ve no doubt interacted with a pharmacy technician. These professionals are most recognizable as the folks at your local drug store – handing you a prescription bag and ringing up your purchase on the cash register.
Retail pharmacies aren’t the only places pharm techs work, though. Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of settings, from hospitals to mail-order prescription facilities. And their job tasks can vary greatly depending on where they work.
About half of all pharm techs work in drug stores, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In a retail environment, pharmacy technicians work under the direction of the registered pharmacist to handle a number of important tasks, including:
Most pharmacy technicians employed in a retail setting work full time, sometimes in shifts that include nights and weekends. The median pharmacy technician salary in retail drug stores is about $30,000 per year, and demand for pharm techs is expected to grow rapidly as the Baby Boomer population continues to age.
Some pharm techs don’t want to interact with the public as much as required in a drug store setting. If that sounds like you, then you may be interested to know that hospitals employ many pharmacy technicians “behind the scenes” to prepare medications for patients. Like their retail peers, hospital-based pharm techs also work under the supervision of a registered pharmacist, but they may perform more complex tasks, including:
Working in a hospital is tops for pharmacy technician pay: the median salary for these professionals comes in at nearly $37,000 per year.
Many people receive their medications through the mail these days, and while it’s true that big machines count and package those pills, the prescriptions still must be processed by someone who has passed a pharmacy technician exam.
In a mail-order pharmacy, a pharm tech might:
Pharmacy technician hourly pay in a mail-order facility might run as high as $15.50, for a median annual salary of about $31,000.
Pharm techs work in other settings, too, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, where they may package and dispense medications to patients.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to become a pharmacy technician, our Admission Advisors can put you on the path to enter this this fast-growing field. Learn more about the online pharmacy technician program at Ashworth College. Call 1-800-957-5412 or request free information today!
In our GO AFTER IT blog series, you'll meet fellow students and grads who committed themselves to chasing their dreams and proving it pays to GO AHEAD toward better opportunities -- no matter the obstacles to be overcome.
When Dan Brennanhusen* attained his role as the new director of safety and security for a major school district, his qualifications included nearly two decades of law enforcement and corporate security experience. He had also earned his Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Ashworth College and is a strong believer in the power of education to achieve success.
“I believe higher education is a leveraging tool to seek higher positions,” says Brennanhusen, “and with higher positions you typically are better compensated.”
While Brennanhusen was rewarded with better compensation, he feels that his Ashworth College program provided him with something much more valuable than the promise of higher pay. Even after working as a professional in law enforcement for so many years, he learned new concepts and techniques from the books and lessons in the Master of Criminal Justice Degree Program. He also discovered the practicality of his education, since he is using what he learned every day in his new job.
“I found the program to be contemporary and directly applicable to my profession. The core principles and components of my studies positively impact my career daily,” he says.
The quality of the program was unquestionably relevant to Brennanhusen’s career, but there were other benefits of an Ashworth College education that drew him into attending in the first place.
“Because I had a really busy work and family life, including two kids, I had to find a flexible program. I had been promoted to new assignments and divisions so life was as busy as it could possibly be. Ashworth College offered the accreditation and flexibility I needed to attain my objectives. The cost was also a plus.”
One might ask why a successful criminal justice professional who was already promoted would want to continue their education. According to Brennanhusen, the answer was twofold: career advancement and personal growth. At the time, he was a police sergeant and wanted to become a member of his department’s executive leadership team by working his way up to chief. After being promoted to commander, Brennanhusen realized that he would need a master’s degree to be considered for the next step up. And he knew that a higher-level degree would help him in his role for future promotions.
Says Brennanhusen, “Hiring someone always comes with some risks. I view degrees and higher education as an important piece of the puzzle. Having ‘missing pieces’ may cause a potential employer to find someone who has a more complete puzzle.”
As Brennanhusen completed his educational “puzzle,” he took his time. Aside from his competing priorities of earning a living and caring for a busy family, he says he didn’t want to merely pass assignments – he wanted to get good grades, do well and truly learn. He even paused his studies for a while so he could regroup and refocus.
Congratulations to Brennanhusen on completing his master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and the opportunities it has afforded him. If you’re interested in this field, or other fields of study, we recommend you contact an Admissions Advisor at 1-800-957-5412 who will be happy to answer any and all questions you may have.
* At the request of the student in the interest of job privacy and security, a pseudonym is being used; otherwise, all quotes and information in this blog are actual and verifiable.
What’s your dream career? Working in the booming healthcare field? Criminal justice? Owning your own business?
All too often, people’s dreams get derailed because they think they can’t get the education they need to turn their vision into reality. The Ashworth College graduates in these videos will tell you otherwise. Hear their inspiring stories, and then talk to an admissions advisor today so you can stop dreaming and start pursuing your ideal career!
Wouldn’t you love to star in your own graduation video, dressed in a gown and mortarboard like these students? We would certainly love to see you walk the stage at our live commencement event to receive the certificate, diploma, or degree you earned at Ashworth College.
Learn more about the many flexible, afforedable programs available to help you start turning your dream career into a reality: Talk to an admissions advisor today!