A little over a decade ago, the Great Recession left the economy in ruins and destroyed many financial futures. And although that recession passed, the shock waves it initiated continue to reverberate in individual lives. One in three Americans still have not recovered from the recession. The hardest hit Americans continue to be those with the least education.
As a result of COVID, we may be entering a new recession, with an uncertain future for many career paths. You might think now is not the time to restart your career, but that’s not necessarily true. Returning to college now offers significant job security through this recession and every economic downturn that comes after it. Here’s why now might be the perfect time to restart your career.
Recessions: An Inevitable Reality in Every Career
Recessions happen an average of every four years, though each recession is different. Some are minor, temporary dips in the economy. Others trigger major losses that last for years. Whether big or small, recessions are unfortunately an inevitable part of every career.
A recession can hit any industry, triggering layoffs, downsizing, and furloughs. One thing is certain though: the more education you have, the safer you are in a recession. During the Great Recession, unemployment surged to 17.2 percent among the least educated Americans, but remained at a relatively low 5.3 percent for those with bachelor’s degrees.
The COVID crisis has changed virtually everything about how we live. Once-innocuous interactions now seem life-threatening. A visit to the store requires protective equipment and a detailed plan. This sudden vigilance may change how we do things for decades. Additionally, it will also probably cause a serious recession due to high unemployment rates. The re-evaluation that COVID has forced everyone to engage in presents the perfect opportunity to restart your career by going back to school.
A Chance to Finally Pursue Your Dream Job
Life is fundamentally different right now. Some of us are working from home while also trying to occupy kids. Others have taken time off to facilitate online learning. Some must go to work covered head to toe in protective equipment, and many are having to embrace new technologies and new ways of doing things. Seemingly everything is in flux.
Despite this, though, many employers are offering more flexibility than ever before. That makes now a great time to use that flexibility to your advantage and go back to school. The COVID crisis offers unique opportunities you might never have again:
- Your employer may be willing to let you work from home.
- Because everyone is struggling to get their work done and juggle family duties, many employers are willing to offer more time off.
- With tight budgets, employers may be looking to eliminate less-valuable employees. A degree can prove your worth.
- Online education is booming, and employers increasingly embrace these degrees.
- If your spouse is working from home, it may be easier for you to balance school, work, and parenting demands.
A recession can make life difficult. You might earn less, feel less secure at work, or even have to dust off your resume and apply for a new job. This uncertainty presents a powerful opportunity to try something new. If your career is not working out as you hoped, take the bull by the horns and get the training that can help you transform your life and your career into something better.
How a Degree Can Recession-Proof Your Career
Graduating during a recession can be tough. On average, recession graduates earn about 9 percent less. Yet that decline in earnings diminishes with time, allowing you to play catch-up with your peers. Moreover, you’ll be making more than you would without a degree, helping to offset the small earnings increase you may face if you graduate at the wrong time. No matter when you graduate, a college degree is a wise investment that quickly pays for itself. Consider the following:
- Degree holders have median weekly earnings of $415 more than those who do not complete college and $502 more than high school graduates. That adds up to more than $20,000 in additional earnings each year—often as much or more than the cost of your degree, all earned back in a single year.
- The unemployment rate of college graduates is a mere 2.2 percent, compared to 3.7 percent with a high school diploma. During a recession, the difference between these two figures widens, with less-educated workers having significantly higher unemployment.
- A college degree makes you a more valuable employee with more skills to offer your employer. This decreases the likelihood that you’ll be first on the chopping block at layoff time.
- Your degree may open career doors that skills and experience alone cannot unlock. This allows you to climb higher and faster on the career ladder, potentially offering significant protection during a recession.
Can You Afford a Return to School?
During a recession, especially if your job is unstable, you may be worried about money. The last thing you want to do is add another expense to your monthly budget or take on more debt without a guarantee that you’ll be able to pay it off.
College is more affordable now than ever, especially with online-only options that reduce other costs of attendance, such as lost time, child care, and fuel for your car. At SNU, almost all students get some type of financial aid. If you’re worried about debt, rest assured that it’s just one of many options for funding your education. Grants, scholarships, and employer programs may help defray the costs. Even if you do take out student loans, there are myriad ways to reduce monthly payments—and in some cases, to delay or eliminate them altogether through forbearances and debt forgiveness programs. We can help you complete your financial aid paperwork, then weigh your options for paying for school. Even if you’ve defaulted on a student loan, there may be options for returning to school.
No student should miss out on a brighter future because they can’t afford one. We’re leveling the playing field and diligently working to ensure every student has access to an exceptional education.
College Strategies for Adult Learners
The right school is an important part of your long-term career plan. Returning to college as an adult is very different from enrolling as an 18-year-old freshman. You may have children, a spouse, volunteer obligations, a full-time job, and a hefty dose of anxiety about whether you can really do this. The following tips can help you navigate your career restart:
- Choose a school with a flexible degree program. SNU offers online and in-person classes so you can attend school on your schedule.
- Get the support you need from family, a childcare provider, or your employer. On-campus support matters too. SNU’s innovative cohort model allows you to begin building your professional network while you complete your studies.
- Don’t let arbitrary timelines slow you down. SNU offers rolling admissions so you can hit the ground running as soon as you are ready.
- Practice diligent time management. Time is a finite resource—arguably the most valuable asset you have. If you find better ways to organize your schedule, studying will be easier and more productive.
- Some employers offer support for students who want to return to school. Ask about tuition reimbursement and similar options.
Want to learn more about the exciting career doors a college degree can open? Check out our free guide, The Ultimate Career Roadmap for MBA Graduates.