Never Too Cool for School: Working While Earning Degrees, Training Is Hot

It’s September and back to school reminders are everywhere.Is this giving you the itch to enroll in continuing education, earn a secondary degree, take classes just for fun or ramp up your career with additional training?“According to recent estimates from the American Council on Education, the number of post-traditional students has grown to 13.3 million, comprising 60 percent of all undergraduate students, yet they are still underserved by higher education,” according to a new survey from Champlain College.[bctt tweet=“Going back to school in any form is a consideration to advance your career. Tell us your #backtoschool story.” username=“takeleadwomen”]The “survey reveals that many adults would go back to school with the hope that higher education will unlock greater opportunities and gratifying careers for them, but barriers range from self-doubt to financial and physical realities,” says Dr. Laurie Quinn, provost and senior vice president for academics at Champlain College.According to the report, 59 percent of respondents would have a more positive feeling about themselves if they complete a degree. And the majority of those seeking degrees now are the non-traditional over 25 year-old student.“A 2017 report from the American Council on Education (ACE) found that nearly 60 percent of undergraduate students enrolled during the 2011–12 academic year were post-traditional learners. This cohort of older learners is expected to grow through 2026, according to projections from the National Center for Education Statistics,” writes James Paterson in Education Dive.These students are men and women over 25 in mid and upper level career with jobs who want to improve their careers.“About half of [adult learners] think pursuing a degree or certificate is a wise investment despite the cost, but the rest are not convinced,” according to a new Public Agenda  report.So how do you decide what might be right for you? Here are some incentives and considerations in your quest to quench your thirst for new knowledge.A part-time MBA may work for you.  Flexible classes on week nights and Saturdays are offered at many top tier business schools in their executive MBA programs, or EMBA. And seeking part time enrollment can be easier.” In general, even the most competitive part-time programs tend to be easier to get accepted to than their full-time counterparts. For example, at NYU Stern, 20 percent of full-time students are accepted versus nearly 66 percent of part-time applicants,” according to US News & World Report. You will also be in good company. “While enrollment for full-time MBAs decreased significantly in the U.S. between 2005 and 2016, enrollment at part-time programs has risen nearly 20 percent, according to a survey of about 350 accredited business schools from AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business,” US News reports.[bctt tweet=“Looking to go back to school? Whether it’s a part-time MBA program or an online leadership training program like one of @TakeLeadWomen’s, options for #womenleaders to expand their horizons are many. “ username=“takeleadwomen”]Biz schools are seeking female applicants to reach parity. “With many business schools trying to actively recruit more female students, and increased scrutiny of whether and where gender inequality begins, many MBA programs are examining their practices and trying to understand how they might play a role in the paucity of women in senior leadership roles in corporate America,” writes Georgene Huang, CEO of Fairygodboss, in Forbes. “The Forte Foundation, which is a non-profit consortium of business schools that, among other things, attempts to improve the ratio of female MBA students and support their professional success argues compellingly that the data shows an MBA is worth the investment.”Online leadership training focused on women may be what you need. “While you may have great credentials, strategy and intention are often far more important than anything else,” says Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead. She recently launched the latest version of Take The Lead’s successful online courses,  “9 Leadership Power Tools: The Sure Steps To Advance Your Career,” with eight weeks of curriculum, paired with eight weekly live Q & A chats on Facebook with Feldt. Author of the bestselling book, No Excuses” 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, Feldt says, “It’s all DIY these days. No waiting for anyone else to do it for us.” For women in early career, mid-career or C-suite, this training, “It’s a game-changer that will give you the tools that will give you a new way to transform how you see and use power, how to negotiate more effectively, how to use my ‘life-changing’ 9 Leadership Power Tools, and a strategic leadership action plan that helps you identify exactly what you want to accomplish and map out how you’ll get there,” Feldt explains.Research what best serves you timewise, moneywise and more. “Your career progression, particularly in science and technology, can greatly benefit from having an advanced degree. And some fields require it – to become a professor at an academic institution, for example, a Ph.D. is a standard requirement. It’s a good idea to research the norm in the field of your choice,” writes Ruchika Tulshyan in Seattle Times. “If you’re deciding whether to pursue an additional qualification, I recommend talking with a few professionals in the field before making that leap. Sometimes, an advanced degree can open up a world of new possibilities. But in some cases, it can be an added expense you didn’t need in the first place,” she writes.Networking is a bonus. Earning a CFA certificate, for instance, if you are in finance, offers opportunities to meet professionals you might otherwise not gain access to. Stephen Horan, managing director for credentialing at the CFA Institute, says, “We provide members and candidates with a strong network of more than 150 local member societies around the world where they can connect with peers and industry colleagues at many events throughout the year. Members are also invited to take on voluntary leadership roles at their local society, including several board-level roles, which provide non-executive management experience,” according to Business Because. The same is true in many other industries.[bctt tweet=”#Backtoschool season is upon us, but continuing education can give you more than just a degree. Networking, skill-building, and self-awareness are also benefits that #womenleaders find at school.” username=“takeleadwomen”]Decide if face to face learning or online training suits your learning style. You can choose a part time executive program that meets in person, or you can enroll in online courses that cater to your schedule completely. But how best do you excel? “Online learning is a great tool for someone who has a strong sense of self-discipline and is able to study without the assistance of others, but for someone without these skills, it is mostly useless as they might find it hard to motivate themselves to actually sit down and study,” writes Kamy Anderson, market researcher at ProProfs, in Open Access Government. “Certain soft-skills like business storytelling or conflict management would do much better in a collaborative environment since nonverbal communication can often be a very important element of the subject at hand. When it comes to policies, standards and any other form of regulatory compliance training, online teaching has shown to have great results while face to face teaching provides great results for studying abstract topics and soft skills. Because of this, the so-called “hybrid” teaching methods are considered to have the best results in universities, workplaces and schools alike.”Check out the continuing education certificate options. Business News Daily offers these options: “Coursera is an online learning platform founded by two Stanford professors that offers courses, specializations and degrees. The site currently offers more than 2,400 free courses ranging from topics on corporate entrepreneurship (University of Maryland) to data analysis (PricewaterhouseCoopers). Facebook Blueprint offers eLearning courses in 16 categories. Whether you’re trying to target the right audience or increase online sales, Facebook has created free resources for you to learn how. Using tools such as Eventbrite, you can filter through events in your area using keywords that apply to your industry. Take advantage of the numerous workshops, networking events and other business events that are right in your back yard,” writes Carlyann Edwards.“If you think about all the changes occurring in the economy and with technology and society today, continuing education, certification and a return to school for additional degrees is a trend,” says Peter Hans,  North Carolina Community College System President, in Rockingham Now.  Peter Hans. “Shorter duration of education – in training, re-training and life-long learning – will help the learners to have the skills needed to be successful.”