If you already have marketable skills and a salaried job, getting a college degree may not seem fruitful; but that’s not how your future employer may be thinking. No matter your age or work experience, higher education can help you reach new professional heights, according to our survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers.
Yes, recruiters and hiring managers do place great emphasis on experience, but our survey also revealed that when deciding who to interview, the vast majority of hiring managers consider level of education to be the most important factor.
Eyeing that dream job? Looking for a more senior position at a new organization? A college degree could be the difference between an interview and a rejection letter. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering going back to school after starting a career.
What hiring managers have to say
We asked recruiters and hiring managers to rate how important certain factors of a resume were when it comes to choosing candidates to interview. Here’s how they responded:
- Accolades and awards: 58% said important or very
- Prior jobs outside of industry: 63% said important or very
- Success stories and case studies from prior jobs: 71% said important or very
- Relevance of most recent job: 76% said important or very
- Years of experience: 79% said important or very
- Relevance of education: 81% said important or very
- Level of education: 83% said important or very
As you can see, getting a college degree remains an effective way to get a foot in the door professionally.
Getting a degree after starting a career
The numbers above also indicate that experience is valued almost as much as level of education. Going back to school after pursuing another career means you’ll have both when you complete your degree.
“The biggest hiring challenge is finding candidates with a four-year degree who [also] have years of experience,” said one hiring manager.
That’s why relevant experience and a diploma makes you a formidable candidate; perhaps even more so than someone who went to college right out of high school. While those who pursued a higher education between the ages of 18 and 24 were perceived favorably by hiring managers, those who did so between the ages of 25 and 34 or between 35 and 44 were perceived even more favorably.
Earning a degree while working full time
Of course, going back to school as an adult with a career poses tough decisions. The time commitment may mean you have to quit your job. If you’re not in the financial position to do so, you’ll have to juggle your personal, professional and academic life. With flexible online degree programs that let you learn from anywhere, Arizona State University’s online programs allow adult students to more effectively balance their responsibilities.
Students enrolled in ASU Online programs also have access to student services that can help them in and out of the classroom. This includes academic support such as writing center services, online tutoring, tech support and more. ASU Online also offers mental health and wellness support in the form of counseling services, crisis intervention, therapy webinars and more.
Plus, all of ASU Online’s degree programs can be taken part time to accommodate work schedules, family needs or other life circumstances, and there is no minimum number of credits you need to take per semester. Just keep in mind that you may need to retain a certain enrollment status to qualify for financial aid. You can speak with an ASU enrollment coach to learn more.