What comes to mind when you think of the typical college student? A wide-eyed 18-year-old living away from home for the first time, hoping not to gain the dreaded freshman 15?

If so, you may be surprised to discover that, according to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics, 7.4 million college students in 2019 were over the age of 25. And, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, the percentage of adult learners is steadily increasing, with 34% of full-time adult students being over the age of 40.

Adult learners are the new college students in 2022.

What’s Causing So Many Adults to Go Back to School?

Well, the reality is, it’s now more affordable for adult learners to go back to school and get their degree, and never been more valuable.  Taken with all of the benefits listed below, it’s become an excellent value proposition to make a better life for someone and their family.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – below, we’ve listed the top reasons why busy adults are going back to college.  We’ll also share some tips on exactly how you can save thousands on your education as well.  Most people will assume that balancing a full-time job and family responsibilities with their educational goals is not an easy task…not true though!

Let’s dive in…here are the Top 13 benefits on why you should go to college:

1. Greater Earning Potential

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Perhaps the biggest and most obvious benefit of higher education is that an advanced degree increases your earning potential. Data from the United States Census Bureau suggests a strong link between degree level and salary potential.

And if you need a little more convincing, a study from The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reported some startling data:

  • High school graduates earn roughly $1.3 million over their lifetime.
  • Those with some college earn roughly $1.6 million.
  • Those with an associate degree may earn $1.7 million.
  • A bachelor’s degree can get you about $2.3 million over your lifetime.
  • A Master’s can pull in $2.7 million.
  • A doctoral $3.3 million.
  • And a PhD $3.6 million.

So, doing some quick math according to the study, an additional 4 years of college can earn you an extra $1+ million dollars over your lifetime. That’s definitely beneficial!

2. More Job Opportunities

In a 2016 jobs report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that roughly 37% of the jobs and occupations listed in their handbook require a college degree. Bachelor’s degrees are typically the degree most frequently required, necessary for obtaining approximately 21.3% of all jobs listed in the handbook.

The BLS projects that between the years 2014 and 2024, jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree will increase by 8.2%, a master’s degree by 13.8%, and a doctoral or professional degree by 12.2%.

As our economy becomes more global, the competition for jobs increases. Many workers are finding their skillset is simply outdated and in need of a polish. This is particularly true in certain industries like technology, where many employers choose to bring on newer, younger talent rather than invest in upskilling and retraining their current workforces.

For many adults to compete, they will need to acquire new skills to be perceived as valuable to potential to current or future employers.

The bottom line is competition for employment has been heating up. Good jobs are harder to come by and getting your degree will definitely open more doors for you.

3. Positive Impact on Your Family

Earning your degree doesn’t just improve the quality of your life, it also improves the quality of your family’s life as well. Not only will job security and a higher salary bring peace of mind to your children and partner, but studies have shown that children in households where one or both parents have a college degree are themselves more likely to earn a college degree.

In other words, it doesn’t just have the direct rewards and impact financial and emotionally, it has the indirect benefits of positively influencing your family members as well.

So, by earning your degree, you can influence the well-being of your children and grandchildren in a myriad of ways!

4. More Flexible Than Ever…Online Degrees

Going back to school for adult students is easier than ever before thanks to online degrees. You can literally study from the comfort of your living room wearing your pajamas and progress toward your graduation at your own pace and in a timeframe that makes sense for you with your other responsibilities.

Wait. From anywhereat my own pace…and still maintain my existing life??

Yep. Pretty amazing.

Just a decade or so ago, going back to school for adults meant attending night classes at their local community college. And while that is still an option, technology has completely changed the educational landscape.  It means not leaving work early, not missing children’s soccer games or dance recitals, or your favorite show on HBO.  It’s all at your pace and schedule.

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5. It’s More Affordable

It’s one thing to carry around student loan debt as a single person with no dependents, but racking up debt when you have a mortgage and children? Especially with the kind of economic – local and global uncertainty we’ve all experienced in the past two years with the pandemic impacting almost every decision of our lives. It’s simply not an option for adult students. It’s the steep cost of higher education that has kept a majority of adult students from pursuing their degree. Americans currently owe $1 trillion in student loan debt and absolutely can’t afford to pay it back.

One should definitely avoid that situation.

Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the case now.  There are many feasible options to lower the cost of college, and going back to school is not only easier but more affordable than ever.

And before you ask, I’m not talking about applying for scholarships. When you consider the amount of time and effort spent applying for scholarships and the average amount of financial help students gain, the math just doesn’t add up.

So what can I do to avoid overpaying for college??

Free Courses for College Credit

We founded OnlineDegree.com to make college more affordable, and help busy adults to potentially finish sooner…for Free. We offer free college-level courses that could apply toward your degree, potentially saving you thousands of dollars. Yes, THOUSANDS.

Here’s how it works:

You can take as many of our courses as you’d like…online, from the comfort of your home, and at your own pace.  You can learn about marketing, computer programming, psychology, education, and much more from excellent professors around the country.

We’ve then worked out relationships where participating universities across the country can give you credit for the courses you’ve finished.  Complete the courses, enroll at the university, save time and money.  Not only does this give one the ability to save thousands on their degree, it has the added benefit of potentially finishing sooner as you complete course requirements toward your degree.  A double win! Anyone can register to get started in just 60 seconds.

But that’s just one way to save.

Tuition Discounts

As part of our mission to make college more affordable, we’ve organized numerous discounts at colleges and universities across the country. All free to utilize when you register. Just another way you can save big while earning your degree. And trust us, you should want to do that with an uncertain future ahead of all of us!

How much can you save exactly? Our discounts typically range between 5% to 25% depending on the school and could equate to a huge amount of savings. And, as a bonus, you don’t have to spend hours applying for them. They are all available to you when you register.

6. Better Employment Benefits

Can a college degree help you be healthier? Well, yes, in a matter of speaking.

Studies have shown that college graduates are far more likely to receive more robust employer-provided benefits than employees without a degree when it comes to healthcare coverage.

As an example, a 2008 report by College Board showed that roughly 70% of professionals with a 4-year degree received health insurance from their employer, while less than 50% of employees with only a high school diploma received the same benefit.

But it doesn’t stop there. College graduates are more likely to find jobs with better retirement matching benefits as well as health savings accounts, tuition reimbursement, free childcare and reimbursement for travel and commuting costs. In some instances, a professional who has obtained the necessary higher education may even land a dream job where the benefits package can be worth almost as much as their take-home pay!

7. More Job Satisfaction

Let’s be honest, most of us spend a majority of our time at work. Our quality of life takes a hit when we do something five (or more) days a week that we really don’t like. In fact, a Gallup poll from some years back discovered something rather shocking (or maybe not that shocking): unhappy employees outnumber happy ones by two to one worldwide! It seems there are many people all over the globe that are completely dissatisfied with the work they do each day. How sad.

We’ve already discussed that college graduates have more job opportunities available to them, which explains why, on average, they feel more job satisfaction. This satisfaction stems from a few different things:

  • They are able to find higher paying jobs.
  • Their positions offer a chance for advancement.
  • They are offered attractive benefits packages.
  • They are able to do work that interests them.

8. Greater Job Stability

College degrees can also lead to more job stability. In fact, many adult learners decide to go back to school when faced with possible layoffs. In recessions, it’s common for employers to cut jobs, and they usually start with those employees at the bottom of the totem pole. What’s the old saying, “Last one in is the first one out?” The COVID 19 pandemic has made the situation worse, with job stability taking a higher hit due to cities and countries shutting down. The unemployment rate stood at 4.8 percent in September 2021.

When it comes to job security, the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers compelling statistics that suggests having an associate’s degree makes an employee 30% less likely to be unemployed and having a bachelor’s or master’s degree 48% to 56% less likely to be unemployed.

9. Pursue a New Career

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Race car driver. Astronaut. Unicorn. Most young people don’t have a clue what they really want to be, but we are forced to make a choice and hope it’s the right one. For many of us, the choice might have seemed right at 18, but as we mature and get to know ourselves and our interests and skills better, we find we are in a career that doesn’t suit us.

In some cases, people may also be forced to retire from their current career earlier than expected. This can be as a result of downturns at companies, recession, health issues or family complications.

A study by Voya Financial found that 60% of Americans are forced to retire earlier than planned. Many of the respondents will be forced to acquire a new skill set in order to secure another job. For people who are 50+, going back to college is a way to boost their marketability in a competitive job market.

All in all, going back to school as an adult means getting a second chance at making the right choice. When we are involved in a career that we love, we are ultimately happier, healthier people with more value to offer our communities.

10. The Ability to Start Your Own Business

Many of us go to college with the idea of someday landing a job. So we acquire the necessary skills to be perceived as a valuable employee and then pound the pavement looking to get hired.

But some people aren’t cut out to be employees forever. These people have an entrepreneurial spirit but not necessarily the acumen to start their own business – business startups have grown in the US from 3.5 to 4.4 million from 2019 to 2020. By going back to school, these entrepreneurs can gain the knowledge necessary to get a new businesses off the ground and help it grow.

11. Learning!

Yes, using the degree to better your financial situation and career are primary factors for an adult…but don’t discount the utility received from learning at the college level!

Remember how excited you felt as a little kid learning something new? When you could finally tie your shoes by yourself or when a lightbulb went off and adding and subtracting became easy-peasy. These were profound moments in your young life!

Going back to college reintroduces the thrill of learning to adults who may have forgotten how good it feels. Did you know that learning something new lights up the pleasure centers in our brain? Learning actually makes us feel a kind of high that we don’t get through any other activity.

And, let’s be frank… as we age, our minds tend to get a bit clunky and our cognitive abilities just aren’t what they used to be. But going back to school and earning your degree is an excellent way to keep your brain working optimally and maintain your critical thinking skills.

Having fun and staying sharp? That’s a win/win!

12. Finish What Was Started

Many adults are choosing to go back to college simply to finish what they started. There are numerous life circumstances that can throw our education goals off track when we’re younger, leaving us with only a handful of credits and no degree.

Going back to finally get that degree can be a shorter journey than many imagine as many institutions are now accepting previously earned credits (community college, OnlineDegree.com, etc.). Some will even translate workplace competency into transfer credits.

Many athletes including Brandon Jacobs, Emmitt Smith, and Troy Polamalu returned to school after retiring from professional sports to finish their education. In these instances, it wasn’t a financial need that caused them to pursue their degree, but the very satisfaction of finishing what they started.

13. Gain More Confidence

Beyond gaining a sense of accomplishment, going back to school and earning your diploma will bring you renewed confidence. If you’ve heard the phrase “imposter syndrome,” you know that may people feel they are faking their way through their careers, continually frightened they’ll be discovered as a fraud without enough skills or knowledge.  It’s irrational, but still a real and common feeling.

If you can relate, then understand that confidence essentially boils down to being prepared. Gaining your degree is one of the absolute best ways you can gain valuable skills and prepare yourself for a more competitive workforce.

Are You Ready to Start Reaping the Benefits of a College Degree?

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Whether you want to change careers, increase your earning potential, inspire your own children, or just finish what you started, going back to school offers numerous benefits. And thanks to flexibility and affordability, online degrees are making it easier than ever for adult students to earn that degree.

Will this be the year you finally go for it? We hope so.

And remember that we at OnlineDegree.com are here to help you along your journey as well.  To your success!




About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.