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Degree Completion: Worth the Investment?

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Jul - 18 - 2011
Jim Brandt

Written by: James Brandt, Vice President – Adult & Graduate Studies

So you’ve been thinking about returning to school to finish your bachelor’s degree. You know it will require a big investment of your time. There’s also the anxiety that comes with worrying about performing well in the classroom, especially because you’ve been away for quite a few years. You check out a few programs and the biggest shock is the cost: the credits you need to graduate will cost you nearly as much as you spent on five semesters of college fifteen years ago. You begin to wonder whether it is really worth the investment. You mull over that thought as you continue your job search.

A report released by the Center for Law and Social Policy and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (Kelly, P. and Strawn, J., 2011) provides some answers. The authors synthesize statistics on unemployment, workforce demand, and college enrollment trends gathered by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, Georgetown University, and the Interstate Commission on Higher Education. Their report provides some interesting insights:

  • Between 2008 and 2018 demand for college educated workers will rise by 16 percent while demand for other workers remains flat.
  • In half the states, demand for college-educated workers will grow 2-3 times faster than the demand for high school graduates.
  • Unemployment rates for adults with high school diplomas are a third higher than those with some college and twice as high as those with a bachelor’s degree.
  • The number of traditional aged students entering college is leveling off or decreasing in many states, while the demand for college educated workers continues to rise.
  • Between 2009 and 2019, adult college enrollment is expected to increase by 22.6 percent while enrollment of tradition age students increases by 9.7 percent.

The national trend certainly indicates an increasing workforce demand for adults who return to college and earn an associate or bachelor?s degree, but what about Wisconsin? What is the job outlook for adults thinking about completing their college degree here in the Badger State? Kelly and Strawn share the following statistics:

  • The 2009 unemployment rate for Wisconsin adults with some college but no degree is 6.9% while the unemployment rate for adults with a bachelor degree is 3.5%.
  • Between 2008 and 2018, Wisconsin jobs requiring a high school diploma are expected to grow by 4.28%.
  • During that same time period, Wisconsin jobs requiring a college degree are expected to grow by 7.78%.
  • Between 2010 and 2020, the number of high school graduates in Wisconsin are projected to decline by 3.2%.

While returning to college requires a significant investment of resources: both time and money, many adults are finding the investment pays off. Accelerated degree completion programs allow adults with 2-3 years of prior college experience to complete their degree quickly, often in less than two years. Wisconsin Lutheran College offers a highly desired and well-respected business degree that allows adult students to finish college in as few as 18 months by attending class one night per week or by taking convenient online classes. Students also have the flexibility of combining both to meet the demands of a busy lifestyle. The entire program including all required textbooks costs $16,800 with no hidden fees.

Is completing your degree worth the investment? Not only is it worth it, but it just may be the best investment you can make to ensure your future financial and career success.

Kelly, P. and Strawn, J. (2011). Not just kid stuff anymore: the economic impact for more adults to complete college. Center for Law and Social Policy and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Retrieved from:

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Posted in: Academic Excellence, Christian Leadership, Degree Completion

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