The COVID-19 pandemic has changed what many of us once took for granted. Some people were (or still are) struggling to find a job amidst furloughs and layoffs. Others who were lucky enough to keep their jobs had to adjust to a remote work environment while juggling family responsibilities. On top of all of this hardship remains the underlying uncertainty regarding the health and well-being of one’s self, family and loved ones.
However, the pandemic doesn’t have to be all terrible. For some people, it has inspired new questions about what matters most in life: how to create meaning, spend more time with family and give to the world in a meaningful and lasting way. People who have survived COVID-19 may feel a renewed sense of purpose and a drive to make their lives truly count.
That's why now is a great time to reevaluate your long-term career goals and chart a course to a brighter tomorrow.
How COVID-19 Is Changing Long-Term Career Goals
COVID-19 is temporary, but the shifts it has inspired may last forever. A global crisis forces everyone to evaluate not only their own lives, but the social forces that influence them. Some of the changes we may see include the following.
The Need for Greater Flexibility
More workplace flexibility has always been a great benefit, but COVID-19 has shown that flexibility can save your life. People who can work from home have a lower risk of infection, more control over their schedule, and more time to themselves, thanks to nonexistent commutes and less time spent getting ready.
Parents who work from home may be better equipped to manage childcare challenges and the realities of virtual learning. And when couples can work from home, it may be easier for them to manage the many demands of household labor. Jobs that offer a chance to work from home are more valuable now than ever — and that will likely continue even after the pandemic wanes.
A Deeper Focus on What Matters Most
As you approach the end of your life, you won’t think about the kind of car you drove or your holiday bonus. You’ll probably spend your time reflecting on how you gave back, on what your children learned from you, and on the relationships you forged along the way.
COVID-19 has been a reset for many people, encouraging them to refocus their attention on what matters most. Although you might not be able to give up the daily grind of a 9-5, you may be able to find a job that affords more flexibility, a chance to spend time with your family and the opportunity to leave work at the office when you head home each day.
Could COVID-19 Be the Career Boost You Need?
It’s easy to fixate on what you’ve lost during COVID-19, but the pandemic has inspired many to reach for a better life. If you’ve lost your job, seen your hours cut, or realized you're working in a career where you feel unfulfilled, you’ve got a great opportunity to switch gears.
Instead of spending your time working a job you hate, why not fill out some college applications and see how fast you can get on track to a life you love?
The Incomparable Benefits of a College Degree
A college degree remains one of the best investments you can make in yourself, your family and your future. In 2019, college graduates had median weekly earnings of $502 more than those with just a high school diploma, and $415 more than those who attended, but did not graduate from, college. That adds up to tens of thousands more in income each year.
In the midst of a struggling economy, the value of a college degree is even greater. Ten years after the Great Recession, groups with the lowest educational attainment still had not recovered financially, even as college degree holders saw growing earnings and better-than-ever job prospects. More education makes you more valuable, which means your job is less likely to be first on the chopping block at layoff time.
Returning to School in a Bad Economy
Many students are reluctant to return to school during a bad or uncertain economy. But this is actually an ideal time to refocus on your education. After all, if your earnings are uncertain or nonexistent, you’re not missing much by temporarily cutting your work hours. Moreover, you’re putting in the effort now, so that when the economy turns around, you’ll be well-positioned to make your move and seek out an inspiring career that makes the most of your natural gifts.
The pandemic has drawn attention to careers you might never have considered, too. For example instructional design roles are now thriving, and many health agencies are seeing huge worker shortages that inspire better wages and improved benefits. Spend some time thinking about how the pandemic has shifted the economy, and how you can use those changes to improve your corner of the world while making a better living.
Choosing the Right School for Your Post-COVID-19 Career Goals
Just as COVID-19 has shown the need for greater flexibility at work, it has demonstrated that educational flexibility is a great benefit, too. Adult learners already struggle with juggling myriad responsibilities. Many don’t want to add fighting traffic or giving up evenings with their families to that long list of demands.
More and more schools are responding to these challenges with flexible programs and adult-friendly learning environments. As you compare school options, some questions to ask include:
- Does this school cater to adult learners? If so, how?
- Which programs will maximize my earning capacity and my options for the future?
- Which careers are thriving right now? Are there any careers that are more recession-proof?
- Do I already have coursework in a specific field that I can apply toward my degree?
- What financial aid packages am I eligible for? Will my chosen school help me apply for financial aid?
- How much time do I have to commit to school?
- What support do I have from friends and family? Will childcare be an issue?
- What paths does the school offer to accelerate my graduation? Can I get credit for prior learning?
SNU has long catered to adult learners. We know how to make online learning work. From our innovative cohort model to our flexible evening and online classes, we cater to your busy lifestyle and long-term career goals.
To learn more about your options and decide which type of program is right for you, check out our free guide Choose Your Path: Online vs. On-Campus Education.