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Debating if going back to college as an adult is a wise investment or a waste of time?

Written by Ashworth College on Wednesday, 27 December 2017. Posted in Career

Debating if going back to college as an adult is a wise investment or a waste of time?

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.

The industry

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. 

The employer

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 skills

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.

Still can't decide? These 6 numbers can help

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.

8,100,000

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.

56

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.

2,800,000

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. 

30,000,000

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.

34,000

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

62

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!

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Ashworth College

Our community is full of independent, motivated, growth-focused students. Dive into our blog to explore diverse stories from our students, friends, experts, and executives. From tips & tricks to student experiences and alumni stories, the Ashworth Blog is all about celebrating our community's accomplishments and passions.

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Online College What Makes Our Medical Administrative Assistant Program Rank #1 Online

You want to get the most out of your education so why should you settle for anything less than the best? Ashworth’s Medical Office Assistant: Administrative Procedures Career Certificate Program was named the best online medical assistant program by Medical Assistant Advice. Here’s how we can help you get the skills to help you prepare for a career in the healthcare administration field.

“’The curriculum emphasizes administrative procedures, so classes focus on medical front office management, medical documentation, and processing insurance claims.”

— Medical Assistant Advice

Prepare for work you enjoy

You’re organized and pay attention to detail. You also enjoy helping others and making sure things run smoothly. With these skills, you can help run a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital from behind the scenes. From keeping records and helping patients fill out forms to coding procedures, your talents can be used in various ways as a medical administrative assistant.

Learn the skills to take the next step toward your goals

Being a medical administrative assistant involves helping patients with intake paperwork, pulling files, and scheduling tests or examinations. You’ll learn how to schedule appointments, follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, and ensure Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) compliance. You’ll also complete courses to help you prepare for the medical administrative assistant field such as:

  • A Day in the Life of a Medical Office Assistant. You’ll learn about the characteristics of an effective medical assistant and various working environments tas well as day-to-day duties.
  • Medical Insurance Processing and Coding. In this lesson, you’ll receive an introduction to medical insurance programs, coding, and the procedures to fill out and file insurance claims.
  • Legal and Ethical Issues. There are laws and ethics in place to protect patients and healthcare workers. In this lesson, you’ll learn about the types of malpractice and how you can protect your employer and yourself.
  • Managing the Flow of Medical Records. This lesson will cover the types of medical records and how to maintain them, as well as different payment and collection methods and the business and management of the medical front office.

This certificate program provides students with an introduction to administrative work at private practices, hospital offices, and clinical departments.

Start your career journey

Our Medical Office Assistant: Administrative Procedures Career Certificate Program can help prepare you for the field. Designed by healthcare professionals, this program focuses on the skills and knowledge can boost your potential for a career as a medical administrative assistant. Once you enroll you can prepare to take steps toward starting your career with Ashworth EDGE, our online career services toolkit that helps you translate lessons into the career skills.

Start your journey toward working as a medical administrative assistant with Ashworth College by calling an Admissions Advisor at .

Bedroom desk with laptop

Life Hacks How to Organize an Effective Study Space

Where do you study? If you find yourself studying on your bed in a messy room, you may want to consider revamping your space. The environment you’re studying in can determine how you learn, how much you retain, and how you apply that information. As an online learner, you have a lot of control over your study space. That’s why it’s important to make sure you make it the perfect study environment.

Here are five ways you can make your study space learning-friendly while also personalizing it for you.

Limit distractions and set guidelines

iphone & glasses

At home, there are countless distractions. Between family, a page long to-do list, and lack of motivation, it’s easy to let your mind wander. That’s why it’s important to set study rules. Let your family or roommates know that you’re studying, what you’re studying for, and how long you plan to study. This way they know not to disturb you and understand the importance of the material you plan to go through.

Your spot should also be peaceful and noise free. Listening to distracting music or watching TV may not be the best approach to studying. While music helps some people focus, if you find yourself singing along or concentrating more on the music than your studies you may want to turn it off. Your phone should be off or turned over to limit distractions. It shouldn’t be buzzing and giving you the temptation to surf the Internet. If your area is too quiet for your liking, turn on a fan to add some white noise. Or, think about past study environments that have worked for you. Try recreating that environment with sounds, smells, or lighting.

Comfort is key

Woman looking at computer

Nobody likes to be uncomfortable and you definitely shouldn’t be while you study. As an online learner, it’s easy to roll out of bed and start your schoolwork. While comfort is key, you need to draw the line between comfy and too comfy. This means you may want to change out of your pajamas before you hit the books. This way, you’re telling your brain it’s not time to nap, it’s time to learn.

Think about your desk and chair, too. You want to make sure your chair is comfortable with good support and won’t hurt your back as you’re busy reading and writing. Don’t forget to make sure that your computer monitor and chair are set to heights that are comfortable for you so you’re not injuring your neck or wrists. Lastly, keep your space cool and well lit. If it’s too hot or too cold, or if you’re straining your eyes to see, you’ll be easily distracted. Research shows that productivity is at its highest when the temperature is between 72°F and 75°F.

Keep it organized

Notebook on desk

Now that you have a study space, you want to keep it organized. First, make sure to gather all the supplies you may need and place them where they’re easily accessible. You want these items to be within reach so you don’t have to waste precious study time looking for what you need. You can organize these items by using desk drawers or by placing them in organized piles on top of your desk. Try keeping your materials together by course, including all notes and printouts you may need.

Ultimately, organization means something different for everyone. While a clean desk promotes productivity, a messy desk may help you be more creative. Everyone has a different style and it comes down to personal preference, so choose whatever style fits you. After all, comfort is key.

Personalize it

Decorated home desk

Adorning your study space with photographs, inspirational quotes, or posters can motivate you and keep you going. Maybe a picture of your family reminds you why you’re working so hard to earn your education. You can also spruce up the area with a plant or two. Studies show that plants improve air quality and can help you focus.

Most importantly, this space should be somewhere you enjoy being. A space that’s yours and only yours, even if it’s only a small corner in a busy room. Make this a space you actually enjoy spending time in.

Use the space only for studying

Laptop on a desk

You love your new study space. It’s comfortable and personalized just for you. So, it’s tempting to use it for non-study related activities. Don’t! You’ll be more likely to create distractions if you decide that this is also the space where you’ll watch Netflix, play video games, draw, or just relax. Dedicate it exclusively to studying, that way you only associate the space with learning.

BONUS: Enjoy it

Creating a study space is all about you and the way it makes you feel. It’s about dedicating time to study and creating an atmosphere that allows you to get ready to hit the books and work towards reaching your goals. Due to budgeting restrictions, you may not be able to create the study space of your dreams, but with these tips, you can turn even the most boring space into a spot that inspires you to learn.

Share your study space with us! Use the #AshworthCollege on social media and show us your favorite space to learn.

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Life Hacks How Exercise & Diet Can Impact Your Learning

If you’re lacking energy, having trouble concentrating, or just aren’t feeling your normal self, what you’re putting into your body (or lack thereof) may have something to do with it. Often times people tend to overlook how their lifestyle choices, like nutrition and exercise, can affect their brain. Making small changes in your busy life to adopt a healthier lifestyle can fuel your body and mind while giving you the energy you need to complete your tasks. Here’s how to fit healthy living into your busy schedule.

Nutrition as brain fuel

If you’re losing focus or falling behind in your schoolwork don’t brush it off. It may be due to your overall health. Believe it or not, nutrition affects your learning. Adopting a healthy lifestyle around your busy schedule, schoolwork, and career may seem exhausting, but it’s important. Eating well and moving more doesn’t mean you have to be miserable or eat foods you don’t enjoy. It’s about making small, gradual changes that result in you feeling better. And, if you feel better, you’ll produce better work, gain more energy, and enjoy a boost of confidence.

Food is fuel—fuel for your brain. But, “bad fuel” like processed or refined foods—meaning foods that have been pre-packaged, canned, or frozen—affect your brain in a negative way. Diets that are high in refined sugars can result in impaired brain function and mood disorders. According to the Harvard Health Blog, eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress. Healthier foods produce serotonin, which is a chemical in the brain that affects your mood. If you eat food that’s good for you, that means your overall mood will be better, resulting in better productivity.

With your busy life, it may seem easier to grab a burger on your lunch break from the closest fast food restaurant. Maybe you’re eating just to eat, not considering how it’s affecting your learning and overall mood in general. However, the more junk food you consume, the less nutrients your body receives.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of fitting healthy eating into your hectic life. Instead, try tips like

  • Meal prep. Meal prepping is the easiest way to get on track with healthy eating. Taking some time on a Sunday (or any day that works for you) to prepare meals for the week will set you up for success, and could even save you a few bucks. Wake up, grab your packaged meals, and get learning! When meal prepping, remember to remove foods that offer little to no nutritional value such as processed foods.
  • Pinterest is your friend. Pinterest is a one stop shop for all the easy, healthy recipes you need to get on track. Ashworth’s Nutrition, Diet & Exercise board is full of balanced, vitamin-packed recipes and food prep tips and tricks. Start there!
  • Start slow. Introduce nutritious foods and remove foods from your diet slowly. Incorporate more colorful fruits and vegetables (the more colors the better) as you remove more and more beige and white starchy foods. Take note of how you feel when you eat foods that are healthier and remember how good it feels to eat well when you slip back into old habits to get back on track.

Small changes is all it takes to get the nutrients you need to concentrate on your studies.

Work it out

There are plenty of reasons to exercise that range from reducing the risk of diseases to improving your body composition. But that’s not all. Research shows that exercise is just as important for our brains as it is for our bodies. Exercise helps our memory and thinking and reduces insulin resistance, inflammation that can lead to disease, and raises the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and the abundance and survival of new brain cells, according to Harvard Health Blog. Additionally, studies have shown that those who exercise have greater brain volume in the parts of the brain that controls thinking and memory.

While finding the time to exercise may sound exhausting there are ways to be active without spending hours at the gym. Here are some exercise tips that will have you study-ready:

  • Take a walk. Walking is a great way to introduce physical activity into your life. It’s low impact, doesn’t leave you sweating, and can be easily fit into your daily life. Instead of sitting at your desk at work, take a walk around the building or outside! Or, if you’re having trouble concentrating while studying, take a walk break. Pro tip: Track your steps and set small goals to add more into your week.
  • Find a buddy. If it's hard for you to stay motivated on your own find a buddy to help! Consider group classes such as Zumba, a spin class, or Crossfit. You can also get a personal trainer, but they can be expensive in the long run. Instead, you can commit to being your own personal trainer with Ashworth!
  • Destress. Yoga is low impact and makes you stronger, but it’s also good for your brain. Yoga helps you stress less while also keeping you sharp.

Your health can help you succeed

Nutritious eating and exercise is the ultimate self-care. When you’re healthy inside, you’ll produce better work on the outside. Keep your memory sharp and ready to learn with a solid diet and regular exercise. If you’re not sure where to start, Ashworth College can help! Our Nutrition, Diet and Health Science Program can help you understand how a better diet can improve your quality of life, while our Personal Training Program can help you recognize why physical activity improves your overall health. Ready to take the first step? Enroll online or call us at to see if these programs are right for you.

 
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