Four Career Benefits to Completing Your Degree


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Returning to school to finish your degree can be a transformative step that not only enhances your qualifications, but also opens a world of new career opportunities. There are multiple reasons why an adult would go back to school, as well as some challenges to returning. However, returning to school to finish your degree more often than not can have a positive impact for one’s career.

Unlocking Higher Earning Potential

One of the most common reasons adults choose to finish their degree is the potential for increased earning power. Studies consistently show that individuals with higher levels of education tend to earn higher salaries over their lifetime. According to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), individuals with a bachelors degree make 86% more than those with just a high school diploma.

The APLU also states that the incidence of poverty among bachelor’s degree holders is 3.5 times lower than it is for those who hold high school degrees. With this, higher earning potential doesn’t stop with annual salary. Bachelor’s degree holders are 47% more likely to have health insurance provided through their job where their employers contribute 74% more to their health coverage.

Access to Specialized Roles

Many industries require specific qualifications or credentials for entry into specialized roles, and returning to school to finish your degree can provide the necessary credentials to pursue those opportunities.

Whether one aspires to work in healthcare, technology, finance or a different field, having a relevant degree can open doors to positions that were previously out of reach. According to a study by EAB, 38% of adult students chose to go back to college in order to advance their career.

LightCast, a global organization specializing in labor market analytics, conducted multiple studies about adults who completed their degrees and their status within their place of employment. According to one LightCast study, adult learners are most likely to come from the sales and healthcare industries, and they are likely to go into business management, IT, finance and operations. LightCast also found that employees who finish their degree are 22% more likely to achieve upward mobility than those who do not finish their degree.

Staying Competitive in a Changing Job Market

The job market is constantly evolving with new technologies, industries and job roles emerging regularly (see Jim Kulich’s blog on AI, Ethics and a New Division of Labor). In this dynamic environment, staying competitive requires a commitment to lifelong learning and skill development. By returning to school to finish a degree, one is demonstrating a willingness to adapt to changing trends and acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in today’s job market. This proactive approach can give individuals a competitive edge over candidates who lack a degree or formal education.

Expanding Your Professional Network

Finishing a degree isn’t always about skill development, but rather also the networking opportunities the degree can provide. A cohort model, in which students traverse their degree on the same track, can open up a new professional network, which plays a crucial role in career advancement.

Whether through group projects, student organizations or networking events, adult learners have the chance to connect with classmates, faculty members, alumni and industry professionals who can offer valuable insights, advice and job leads. Building a strong professional network can open doors to new industries, or promotions within current places of employment.

Elmhurst Management Program (Business Administration)

The Elmhurst Management Program (Business Administration), or EMP, is a program designed to be flexible for adult learners. Students can learn from experienced faculty, build a professional network and develop enduring success skills. The program includes courses that meet at nights, as well as some that are online, so that full-time employees can be successful.

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