Higher Education Now Attracts New Age Bracket

(ARA) – Many Americans are considering heading back to school and taking other steps to reinvent their professional lives given the state of the economy, according to an April survey by Harris Interactive.

The survey, commissioned by the Career Colleges Association, reports that as a result of the recession, more than two of every three Americans are either currently taking steps, or thinking of taking steps to revamp their professional lives. Many view unemployment as an opportunity to make themselves more competitive or to pursue a long-standing passion by going back to school.

The survey reports that many Americans are "reinventing" themselves within their work lives. In fact, 38 percent of the survey participants expressed an interest in higher education. Many were interested in improving their credentials.

Patrick Wehner, director of MBA and bachelor’s in business and accounting programs at Everest University in Tampa, Fla. – a career-training college offering programs in business, allied health and criminal justice – explains that for many students, going back to school is crucial to career advancement. Wehner adds that for many, the economic recession presents a perfect opportunity to go back to school.

"Many students come to us saying that they found that in tough job markets, their current credentials aren’t passing the test. They come to us to get the education they need for careers with real potential for advancement," said Wehner. Everest University offers a full range of degree options – from associates to bachelor’s and MBAs. "They understand that while it may require a commitment of time and money, their decision to go back to school pays off in the end," he added.

The CCA survey also reports that 32 percent of those interested in higher education said that they were not trying to make themselves more competitive, but were doing so in order to pursue a long-standing passion or an intellectual interest. Forty-three percent of 25 to 34 year olds are considering higher education for this reason, and three out of 10 adults age 55 to 64 are also interested in changing careers or pursuing a long-held passion through higher education.

Everest College, one of the premier career-oriented educational institutions in the country, reports a rise in applications during the economic downturn.

"I always tell prospective students that if you aren’t happy with your professional life, you are not stuck, you can do something about it," said Jae Lee, regional vice president of admissions for 10 Everest College campus locations throughout Washington and Oregon. "In fact, if you have been laid off or are worried about job security, this economic recession might be the perfect time to make the decision to get the career you really want."

At the same time, a career change is nothing to rush into, warns Catherine Mallozzi, career services director at Everest University – Melbourne.

"My first advice to those looking for a career change is to do their research and make sure they know what their transition will entail," said Mallozzi.

She advises that when choosing a job, there are a lot of factors you should take into consideration, including the compensation package, work schedule, what type of training you will need to get, job stability, potential for advancement, and how interesting you find the work.

"This is a great time to go back to school to pursue that interest, but make sure you are getting the credentials you need for future job stability and advancement as well," she added.

Ryan Centeno, a medical assisting instructor at Everest University in Orange Park, Fla., and the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges’ 2008 Florida Faculty Member of the Year, explains that Everest designs its programs to meet students’ diverse needs.

"We are finding that both our students and employers want focused career-oriented programs that prepare graduates for the workforce," said Centeno. "Especially in these hard economic times, our students don’t have the time or the money to waste, and we know that employers simply don’t have the resources to invest in employees that aren’t well trained. That’s why our programs are tailored to fast-track students into jobs that are in high demand, particularly those in health care." (District Chronicles)

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