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I Recently Lost My Job. Should I Finish College Now?

Ana-Marcela Lopez / Abound: Finish College »

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world, and millions have lost their jobs as a result. If you’re one of those millions, we are so sorry, and we assure you that you’re not alone. As you navigate quarantine and your unemployment benefits, you might be considering whether finishing college while unemployed is a good idea . The answer to that depends on you, but we can say with confidence that finishing college is almost always a great idea. Going back to school during a pandemic might seem like a daunting task, but you can do it! With the right planning and support, you can come out on the other side with a degree, which means higher earning potential and greater job security. Here are some facts about finishing your degree: 

College is a good investment:

At first glance, it might seem counterintuitive to embark on an expensive journey toward a degree with no job to pay for it. While that logic is sound, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Higher education does have a pretty hefty initial investment, but the return on that investment is usually much higher over the course of your career. Return on Investment (ROI) basically tells you whether going back to school is going to be worth your time. In most cases, the answer is almost always that it will be worth it. Despite increasing criticism of higher education, the fact remains that the more advanced one’s education is, the more advanced their earning potential is. On average, people who have earned their bachelor’s degree bring in around $59,124 per year, while associate’s degree holders earn an annual salary of approximately $41,496. 

Increasing your earning potential is always a great move, especially in uncertain times. While no job is disaster proof, you can seek greater job security by pursuing an in-demand degree. Even if you plan on staying in your current field, you can make yourself more valuable by increasing your skill set with a certificate program. This is also a smart move if you’re unsure about committing to a full-fledged degree. You’ll gain valuable skills and the clarity to determine whether you might want to go back to school for a full degree in the future. 

You can still collect unemployment benefits:

It seems like the state of unemployment benefits in America changes by the minute. These benefits are crucial to the survival of millions of Americans, and it makes sense that they might worry about losing them when the future is so uncertain. You’re wise to make sure nothing you do will jeopardize your benefits as you explore your options. 

Typically, one only qualifies for unemployment benefits if they can prove that they are continuously searching for new work and ready to start if an opportunity arises. That last caveat makes it difficult to receive benefits while attending school, as classes could technically interfere with your schedule should you find work. During the Great Recession, however, President Obama encouraged state unemployment agencies to allow benefit claimants to go to school while still receiving benefits. Check with your state to see what policies and requirements might affect your benefit eligibility. 

You won’t be starting from scratch:

Finishing college can be an intimidating endeavor no matter how long you’ve been out of school. And we understand that, as many non traditional students face obstacles that range from affordability and accessibility issues to overcoming the confidence gap. But you can do it! Even if you have a limited foundation to build upon, every little bit helps. Work with your college or university to see what prior credits transfer or if you can use relevant work and life experience

Virtual learning is still learning:

Due to the pandemic, learning is mostly virtual right now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a high-quality experience. Even before COVID-19, colleges had already started to dedicate significant resources to making their online degrees as rigorous, engaging, and effective as in-person instruction. Borne out of a desire to address the needs of non-traditional students, online instruction offers flexibility and freedom. Features such as asynchronous and synchronous learning and virtual resources make it totally possible to work toward a degree while tending to your other obligations. 

There’s no time like the present:

While we are all hopeful for a speedy return to, well, less unprecedented times, we also have to prepare for the consequences of this pandemic—a recession being one of them. Thankfully, the Great Recession of 2008 has given us some useful insight into the wisdom of going back to school during an economic downturn. According to a report by the U.S Census Bureau, total college enrollment grew by 3 million between 2006 and 2011. 

If you’ve lost your job during these trying times, then you might be wondering what a smart next move is. Unfortunately, there is more at stake, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something now that your future self will thank you for. Arming yourself with a degree will help you weather whatever storms that 2020 and beyond still has in store for us. 

Are you ready to head back to school? Abound: Finish College is here for you every step of the way. We connect non-traditional students to the right institution by focusing on what matters most. It’s not about how rich or famous a school is; it’s about finding the best place to pursue your goals and succeed. Check out the schools we trust to find your match for when you are ready to take that first step toward finishing your degree.

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