The opportunities for adult learning in the Philadelphia region far exceed those of just about any other place in the United States. So how can that help you?
The answer begins first with you – your interests, needs, personality traits and values. After you’ve determined your key qualities, you can compare programs and schools with your own goals.
The majority of adult learners attend college seeking career advancement and satisfaction. Additionally, postsecondary education will be required for nearly 75 percent of all future jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
While a degree can’t guarantee success, workers who earn an associate, bachelors or graduate degree will gain, on average, a wage increase of $10,000 per year for each higher-degree level earned. These earnings can amount to as much as $1 million over the course of your work life. Of course, not all degrees affect earnings equally: business, engineering and professional degrees are typically the most lucrative.
Others might choose to attend college for a more personal interest or simply because of a love of learning. Some parents have even found an unexpected bonus — their children are motivated to excel in school by watching them study!
Whatever your goals, you should be able to find a Philly Colleges member college that can help you attain them.
In a region with so many great educational opportunities it is understandably challenging to narrow down your college search. The following criteria may help you compare schools. School offerings also must be compared to your needs and long-term goals. If you are an employer considering which schools to invite to an event, we would encourage you to invite different types of schools to meet a variety of needs.
Relevance Do the classes include adults and apply to the real-world?
Instructor background Does the school use full-time or adjunct faculty?
Supportive environment Can you reach staff when needed?
Reputation Are both the school and program accredited? Does the school rank favorably?
Convenience What time and where are the classes held?
Distance Education Are classes available online or partially online? Is it real-time (synchronous) or to be viewed at any time?
Length of classes and program How many days/hours will you be in the classroom?
Requirements What are the specific entrance, graduation and major requirements?
Transferability Will all classes with a grade of a “C” or better transfer and how do they apply?
Prior learning credit Does the school use tests, essays or give academic credit for professional training and/or military training?
Student completion rates What percentage of students who start and finish the program?
Career advantages What career planning or placement is provided? Who are the other students who will become part of your network? What is the success rate of graduates?
Certificate: This often is a non-credit program to allow students to gain knowledge in a particular subject area or trade. It is not a college degree, but may assist students with acquiring skills in a focused area of study. Additionally, some certificates are offered in cooperation with professional associations to meet the standards for that profession. For example, certification in Project Management, Six Sigma or Human Resources.
Academic credit certificates are also possible and are typically connected to undergraduate or graduate degree programs to encourage a concentrated course of study.
Associate: This undergraduate degree (or certificate-level) is eligible to those with a high-school diploma or GED. Students must complete approximately 60 credits of course work and may choose to attend classes on a full-time or part-time basis. An associate’s degree is equivalent to a two-year degree. Another two years of successful study provides a student with a bachelor’s degree.
Bachelor: This undergraduate degree is eligible to those with a high-school diploma or GED. Students must complete approximately 120 credits of course work and may choose to attend classes on a full-time or part-time basis. A bachelor’s degree is equivalent to a four-year degree.
Post-Baccalaureate (Pre-master’s): This non-degree program allows students to gain additional preparation in a particular discipline after earning a bachelor’s degree. Typically, those completing a post-baccalaureate program a certificate of completion and could also receive credit that could be included in a degree program.
Master’s Degree: This graduate degree is designed for those who wish to achieve advanced credentials in a particular discipline. In most cases, students must possess a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into a master’s program. Some colleges offer a combined undergraduate and graduate program which can be completed in five years.
Education Specialist: The Ed. S. degree is intended for individuals who wish to gain additional credentials in the field of education beyond the master’s degree level. A master’s degree in the field of education is typically required as a prerequisite.
Professional: This advanced degree prepares graduates for professions, such as medicine, dentistry, or law. Professional degrees often have the title “doctor.” Typically, students must have a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into a professional degree program.
Doctorate: This advanced degree is one of the highest earned academic degrees granted by a university, preparing the recipient for research and teaching positions. Typically, students must possess a master’s degree to be accepted into a doctoral program; however, there are also combined master’s and doctoral programs which may accept students with bachelor’s degrees.
You can’t afford not to complete at least one college degree. According to a study conducted in 2005 by the U.S. Census Bureau, full time workers aged 25 and older earned, on average, thousands of dollars more for each degree they had achieved. For example, the median income for someone with their Associate Degree is $40,600, with a Bachelor’s Degree is $50,900, and a Master’s Degree, is $61,300. If you are interested in more information pertaining to degrees and average income you can visit the Department of Labor.
There are a variety of ways to help pay for your education. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement. This helps to cover the cost and will pay either a portion of your education or in some cases cover everything including your classes and books. Similarly, the military also offers reimbursement for education.
Many schools offer payment plans, where you can pay increments based on a schedule. Other ways of paying include low interest government backed loans, grants and scholarships. Full-time students who participate in graduate assistantships often receive discounted or free tuition.
While there are numerous scholarships available to traditional undergraduate students these are much more limited for part-time adult students. Your college may offer their own scholarships. For example, there often are merit scholarships for transfer students graduating from a community college and going on to a four year college or university.
Be sure to speak with the Financial Aid Officer of the university or college you plan on attending to find out the options that are available to you. Below are additional links you may find useful:
College Navigator: National Listing of Schools
Explore Careers and Jobs
Exploring Distance Education