Back to School After Layoff

Top 6 Reasons to Go Back to School When You’re Laid Off

With large-scale layoffs all across the US, a college education is becoming all the more critical to a successful job search. Without college graduation, individuals who have anything less are unable to even enter the competition ring for jobs that require a college degree.

Here are the top 6 reasons to go back to school after a layoff; those with a bachelors or higher degree:

1) have the highest employment rates

2) meet most job requirements in their field

3) get the best salaries

4) have a better resume and more interview opportunities

5) have higher self confidence

6) can combine upskilling with college learning

Many people who are laid off become depressed and conclude that the only way they can get a job is if the whole economy improves for the better. Even if that is true, a person who has spent the laid-off time productively in gaining higher education is much more likely to land a job than someone who simply did nothing during that time.

Complete College Degree After Layoff

Employment Rate

As of 2021, the employment rates for 25 to 34 year olds is 86% specifically for those with a bachelors or higher degree. Even for those who completed some college courses but got no degree, their employment rates have been much higher than high school graduates who never did any college.

This clearly shows that the probability of becoming successfully re-employed is highest with a bachelors or higher degree.

Bachelors Degree Required

More than half of all jobs analyzed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of 2021 require a bachelors degree or higher. This includes most major occupations in Business and Management, Computer and Engineering, Education and Arts&Media.

Adult college graduate with family
Adult college graduate with family

The one industry where an associate degree is sufficient for a well-paying job is in healthcare. The only other occupation in the computer engineering field where an associate degree is sufficient is in computer network support.

Better Salaries and Benefits

On an average across industries, bachelors degree holders have salaries that are about 84% higher than those with a high school diploma. They also have employer sponsored health insurance plans and other perks in some cases such as education assistance for college.

In their lifetime on average, bachelors degree holders make an additional $1.2 million more than their counterparts with a high school diploma.

Better Resume/ More Interviews

There are many jobs advertised in technology and business in which one of the key job requirements is a bachelors or higher degree. In most resumes, a bachelors degree clearly stands out and helps get your foot in the door for more interviews than others with less education.

In my experience, I’ve found that more recruiters and HR managers have reached out to speak to me for their job openings when I had higher degrees.

Indian woman receiving job offers online
Receiving multiple job offers online

Here are my personal job interview statistics over the years as a software developer:

(1) 2000: With a little over an associate degree and about 7 years of work experience from a foreign country, I got 2 phone inquiries which led to 2 interviews and a pending job offer.

(2) 2001: After receiving my US bachelors degree in my field with the same 7 years of experience and upon completing an IT certification, I received over 10 job inquiries, multiple interviews and 2 job offers.

(3) 2012: Years later with more years of experience in my field and a masters degree in management, I received about 30 job inquiries, 10 interviews and 5 job offers.

Higher Self Confidence

Employers and recruiters are more willing to talk to job candidates who have a bachelors or higher degree. The college degree creates a feeling of trust and confidence in employers about the candidate’s skills in their field, and her/his communication and time management abilities. This positive interaction (with employers and recruiters) further boosts the candidate’s confidence level for job interviews.

Confident Job Seeker
Confident Job Seeker

UpSkilling and College

In fields such as technology or business or many other fields, there is always some new skills that all employers are looking for. It could be some new softwares or technology or simply a new way of doing things.

As part of a college degree, you can acquire many of these essential new skills for your career and job search.

65% of American workforce has No college degree

As per the research conducted in 2021 by Pew Research Center, the top 2 reasons adults gave up on their 4 year degree had to do with affordability and finances. Over 40% of adults in the survey claimed that they could not afford to pay for a 4 year degree, and that they needed to work to support their family. Some others did not even start college because it was not part of their job requirement.

Since the pandemic and beyond, there are many employers and state governments who are focusing on jobs that are easier to fill without the demand of a formal college degree. Since 2020-2022, the open job positions had become a lot higher than the availability of qualified candidates with a four-year college degree.

Employers have also started to find that there are many ways candidates can qualify for jobs such as life experience, training or certifications when there is no formal college degree.

A College degree Meets Most Job Requirements

Inspite of many alternative ways to meet job requirements other than a formal degree, on the whole across the US, a 4-year college degree still is the best way to land a well-paying job in growing fields such as business or finance.

As of 2023, there have been many layoffs especially in the technology and finance sector, but even with this increasing competition for jobs, a higher degree is still the best way to stay employed.

Adult Degree Completion Programs

If you are laid off and do not have a 4 year degree, there are many ways to affordably and quickly complete college via a degree completion program. Your work experience and any old college courses and training can qualify for college credits at any of the degree completion colleges such as Excelsior University, Thomas Edison state college or Charter Oak state college.

Adult Degree Completion Programs
Adult Degree Completion Programs

These are the Big-3 degree completion US colleges; they are all regionally accredited and have the most liberal credits transfer policies.

In case you already have a 4 year degree, you can enroll in these degree completion colleges for your masters degree as well.

Here are additional posts with information on degree completion programs and colleges:

1) Here Is A Method That’s Helping Adults To Go To College

2) What is Excelsior College?

3) What colleges let you transfer the most credits?

Momentum and Schedule Flexibility

When there are layoffs at work, the biggest challenge a person faces is the feeling of rejection and reduced confidence. So re-channeling this energy into something as positive as completing your college degree is a great step!

There are no fixed class schedules with degree completion colleges. You can take on-demand online courses or choose from a wide CLEP/ DSST exams, whenever you have the time and so on.

So in case you have to focus on your job search and interview preparation, you can simply set aside some time for working on your degree completion that does not interfere with your job search. There are no rigid rules or schedules and there is a lot of flexibility in ways by which you can customize your learning experience with degree completion programs.

Ultimate Freedom and Customization
Ultimate Freedom and Customization

Underemployment of Graduates: Is College Worth It?

Though there are about 41% of recent college graduates working in jobs that do not even require a college degree, this problem usually corrects itself once the candidate has gained a few years of experience.

InsideHigherEd (IHE) clearly states that this problem of underemployment of new college graduates gradually disappears once s/he gains a couple or more years of experience.

Therefore, completing a college degree is definitely a worthwhile investment. And with a degree completion program, your money and time commitment will be greatly reduced.

To help you with managing your college expenses after a layoff at a degree completion college, you can go over to another post we’ve written to address just that. It’s called 6 Tips for Managing College Expenses After a Layoff.

You could even have your degree completed within 6 months to an year, if you already have sufficient work experience or took college courses in the past.

Better Interview Presentation

Interviews are all about how you are able to present yourself to prospective employers. Once you’re laid off and restart your job search, there are likely to be some recruiters who will ask you uncomfortable questions such as:

1) Why were you laid off?

2) What have you been doing since you left your last job?

If you can show that you’ve gained valuable job skills by completing your 4 year or higher college degree in your field, you can make a great impression and increase your job prospects considerably.

Showcasing Education and Skills in Interview
Showcasing Education and Skills in Interview

Certifications vs. College Degree

Some people take additional skills training in their field or complete certifications to fill their employment gap time. But the main problem with certificates or training is that many of them have a kind-of expiry date, but a college degree is something that can stay in your resume throughout your career.

If you are looking to combine certifications with a college degree. WGU or Western Governors University is a completely online, affordable university that has many IT or Business certifications that are part of the degree curriculum. WGU also has a low fixed tuition fee that is paid every 6 months for unlimited courses.

If you are looking for a degree completion program to meet your needs, this handy guide for $4.99 is just what you need:

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