Career Advice

Should You Go Back To School To Get A Job?

Tom Hanks’ new movie, “Larry Crowne,” which hits theaters nationwide on July 1, is sure to resonate with adults across the nation and in local communities. Co-written and directed by Hanks, who also stars in the movie, “Larry Crowne” is about a middle-aged man who reinvents himself by going back to school after he loses his job because “he didn’t go to college.”  Until he was downsized, affable, amiable Larry Crowne was a superstar team leader at the big-box company where he’s worked since his time in the Navy. Underwater on his mortgage and unclear on what to do with his suddenly free days, Larry heads to college to start over.

If you’re looking for a job or a new start, could going back to college be the answer for you too? “Today, while overall unemployment rates are hovering around 10 percent, only 4.5 percent of college graduates are unemployed,” says Mary B. Hawkins, Ph.D., president of Bellevue University. “It has become clear, not just to economists – but to the millions of Larry Crownes out there – that completing some form of higher education is the best insurance against unemployment. Education is the key to unlocking the potential in each of us.”

How much can a college degree actually help in your job search? Well, there’s never a guarantee that a degree will turn into a job. But statistically, people who have completed college are much more successful in the job market than those who haven’t:

  • The unemployment rate for people who’ve never gone to college is double what it is for those who have gone to college.
  • Last year, full-time workers with college degrees earned 83 percent more than those with only high school diplomas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Nearly eight in 10 new jobs will require workforce training or a higher education by the end of this decade, according to Hawkins.

If you’d like to go back to school but can’t justify the cost, consider this: According to recent research by Washington, D.C.-based The Hamilton Project, the money you invest in a college degree yields much greater returns than an investment in just about anything else. “On average, the benefits of a four-year college degree are equivalent to an investment that returns 15.2 percent per year,” reads the Hamilton Project’s report. “This is more than double the average return to stock market investments since 1950, and more than five times the returns to corporate bonds, gold, long-term government bonds, or home ownership. From any investment perspective, college is a great deal.”

Do you think your college degree (or lack thereof) has influenced your job search? If you’d like to return to college to complete a degree or get a second degree, what keeps you from doing it?