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Should I Go Back To College? Understanding the Benefits of Going Back To School

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s Some College, No Degree report, more than 36 million Americans hold some postsecondary education but have not completed a degree and are no longer enrolled.

For these individuals, answering the question of going back to college can feel like a wrestling match. On the surface it seems easy, but as individuals with some college and no degree navigate the complexities, challenges and costs of going back to school, they may begin to question if it’s worth it.

We’re here to give you the facts about the value of getting a college degree, proving why it’s worth it to go back to college.

Going Back To School: Education Trends For Nontraditional Students

If you’re planning to go back to school, you most likely fall into the category of nontraditional student. Nontraditional age students are considered those 25 years of age and older. Many of these students are worried about going back to college and feeling awkward and out of place among younger students.

However, the term nontraditional is becoming less accurate as the number of students 25 and older attending college increases. According to the government-run National Center for Education Statistics, it’s increasingly common for adult students to complete their degrees. 

Let’s look at the breakdown of enrollment for adults attending college.

  • 41%: Growth of students 25-34 years old enrolled in college between 2000 to 2017
  • 4.4 million: Number of students 25-34 years old projected to be enrolled in college by 2028
  • 6%: Growth of students 35 years and older enrolled in college between 2000 to 2017
  • 3.3 million: Number of students 35 years and older projected to be enrolled in college by 2028

If you’re concerned about going back to school as a working adult, know that you won’t be alone in your pursuits. As the population of adults attending college becomes larger, there are more colleges designed to meet the needs of working adults.

You’re never too old to reap the benefits of getting your college degree. Let’s look at some of the tangible reasons to go back to college.


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5 Compelling Reasons to Go Back To College

The impact of a college degree is more than a sales pitch, there’s hard-and-fast data to support the value of returning to college to earn your degree.

Let’s look at ways a college degree provides tangible value for graduates:

  1. The cost of dropping out of college measured by lost earnings is a combined $3.8 billion a year (Education Data). For most students, dropping out of college can mean signing up for $25,000 less per year in income than those who graduate.
  2. The unemployment rate is consistently higher for individuals who do not earn their bachelor’s degree (Bureau of Labor Statistics). In July 2021, the unemployment rate for individuals with an associate degree or some college but no degree was 5%, compared with 3.1% for individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  3. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)56.6% of employers screen candidates by their GPA. Going back to college is not only an opportunity to earn your degree, but also to improve your GPA and stand out to top employers.
  4. According to the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), college graduates are 47% more likely to have health insurance provided by their employer, and employers contribute 74% more to the costs of health coverage for employees with degrees.
  5. The Association of American Colleges and Universities 2021 survey of employers found that nearly nine out of ten employers think that getting a college degree is either definitely or probably worth it. The highest ranked outcomes of a college degree were ability to work in teams,  critical thinking, ability to analyze and interpret data, application of knowledge in real-world settings and digital literacy.

Answering 4 Big Questions About Going Back To College

Going back to college is a major decision. As you weigh your options, you probably have many questions. We’re here to help you answer some of the most common questions about returning to college. 

  • Does going back to college make good financial sense? Getting your college degree is a significant financial investment. However, you need to keep long-term earnings potential in mind when evaluating the cost of your education. Lifetime earnings of individuals with some college is $1,547,000 compared with $2,268,000 for bachelor’s degree holders (APLU).
  • Will I have to start from scratch? Most likely, no, you will not have to start from scratch. Transfer credit policies are set at the university level, meaning some schools have more generous transfer credit policies than others. Make sure you have a strong understanding of how your credit will transfer before choosing the university where you will complete your degree. Free tools like Franklin’s transfer credit evaluation tool provide an unofficial evaluation that estimates your transfer credits in as few as 10 minutes.
  • When is too late to go back to college? It’s never too late to go back to college. Finishing your degree is an achievement that is rewarding personally, professionally and financially. However, some previously earned credits may expire. Typically, course credits within the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields expire within 10 years due to the constant advancements in these fields. You can find more answers to credit expiration questions here
  • How difficult will it be to finish? Finishing your degree will take dedication, but with proper planning you can make it happen. Choosing the right college can make it much easier to complete your degree. As a working adult, finding a flexible, online program that will help you earn your degree on your schedule can be the key difference in whether or not you finish your degree.

Choose A Transfer-Friendly Online College For Working Adults

Franklin University has been dedicated to helping busy adults complete their college degrees for 115 years. This commitment and experience has built an experience designed to meet the specific needs of working professionals, especially those with some college and no degree.

Franklin University is a transfer-friendly university that offers 100% online degrees that fit your schedule. Franklin accepts up to 94 transfer credit hours, which is about 75% of the credit you need to earn your degree. Whether you have taken a short or long break in your education, Franklin can help you get back on track to graduation.

Learn more about the Franklin experience and how it can empower you to complete your degree.

Free Guide:
Where to Find Free Money to go Back to School
Learn how to get grants to cut college costs.