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Average Student Age on the Rise
The average student age in the U.S. has been climbing steadily in recent years. At both Harvard and Notre Dame the average age is now 27. The University of Phoenix, which offers both online and traditional degree programs, has an average student age of 35-37. On a larger scale thirty-eight percent of all college students are now 25 or older, according to a recent U.S Census Bureau report. So why has the average age been trending upward? There are several factors that have contributed to a more mature scholar.
Cost of Education: It’s no secret the cost of education has soared in recent years at a rate far greater than inflation. Tuition and fees at private four-year colleges have increased nearly tenfold in the past three decades. As a result many would-be students are electing to enter the workforce or military beforehand to help pay for their education.
Longer life expectancy: Fifty years ago the average life expectancy in the U.S. was 69.9. Today that figure is 78.1 (Japan is at 82.1). Longer life means more time in the workforce, and thus, more education needed to adapt to the changing environment.
Online Option: Online education provides the flexibility needed to make learning possible for adult students who would otherwise be unable to further their education. Of the University of Phoenix’s 400,000 students enrolled, 300,000 are online degree seekers.
More Grads: A graduate degree today is equivalent to a bachelors degree yesterday. The growing need for an MBA to help career advancement has led many back to the classroom. And when you consider the U.S. population is over 300 million that’s a whole lot of students knocking on that graduate door.
Baby Boomer Effect: With 401K plans devalued and social security only paying a fraction of the cost of living many baby boomers are in need of an educational overhaul. Versatility is the name of the game these days, and having a broad set of skill sets is required to secure and maintain employment.
Unemployment Benefits: With the unemployment rate at 9.4%, the highest it’s been in twenty-six years, more people are taking refuge in the classroom. The Workforce Investment Act, which is a government-funded program with the goal of providing adults with the money needed for the education, skills, and training they need to get and retain jobs, is being utilized more than ever before.
So if you’re feeling like you’re too old to go back to school, think again, the numbers are actually in your favor. So put down those oatmeal cookies and join me. I’ll even save a seat for ya.
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