Does a college certification really pay off for an older adult learner? Can the time and cost of the education translate into a better paying and more stable job? Some recent statistics from a United States Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics survey (2012)
sheds some light on this issue. Although the survey is based on data from the American educational system, some extrapolations can be made with Canadian institutions. Specifically, the survey examined educational attainment, salaries and rates of unemployment in American adult learners (greater than 25 years of age).
It found that individuals with more schooling have a greater earning capacity – and are less likely to be unemployed. For example, individuals with a high school diploma earned an average of $652 a week, whereas those with a bachelor’s degree earned approximately $1,066 per week. Moreover, individuals with a high school diploma had a higher rate of unemployment (8.3%) compared to individuals with a bachelor’s degree (4.5%).
But how does this situation apply to adult candidates that are returning to pursue an Attestation études collégiales (AEC)? AECs are recognized collegial programs of study that are shorter in duration and oriented toward the job market. If an adult learner chooses to pursue an AEC through the Recognition of Acquired Competency (RAC) services
, they have significant work experience and want this experience officially recognized. But how much is an AEC worth on the job market, and is the time and financial investment worth it?
To address this issue, it is helpful to compare the Canadian AEC with a ‘U.S. style AEC’ awarded by the U.S. Community College system. Community colleges in the U.S. are post-secondary institutions that provide a job-oriented curriculum and career skill updating. Community Colleges award 2-year degrees, termed the ‘Associate’s Degree’, which is roughly equivalent to the Canadian AEC. If one accepts the equivalency of an Associate’s degree with an AEC, some interesting observations are noted.
First, individuals with an Associate’s degree earn approximately $785 per week or $133 more than an individual with a high school degree ($652). This translates into approximately $7,000 more per year than an individual with a high school diploma. Second, from an employment perspective, unemployment rates are lower in individuals with an Associate’s degree (6.2%) compared to individuals with a high school diploma (8.3%). Thus, it appears that the collegiate Associate’s degree (or AEC) translates into greater earning potential and greater job stability.
There is another variable in this discussion that needs to be considered: the debt that is potentially ‘racked up’ by attending school. Tuition for some degrees (eg. professional degree) is very expensive and can actually deter individuals from pursuing post-secondary education. Is this also the case for an AEC? Can the up-front costs be recuperated within a reasonable time period? This is potentially a positive point in favor of pursuing an AEC through Champlain’s RAC services. That is,
the cost of RAC services is relatively affordable
($575) and the time to completion is shorter than traditional full-time AEC (4 months to 1 year, rather than 1 to 1.5 years). This is due to the fact that candidates already have work and life experience in their respective fields. Thus, RAC candidates do not incur a massive debt burden once they graduate, and may also enter the job market sooner due to the streamlined nature of the process.
The low risk, high return investment for an AEC through RAC services needs to be considered. Clearly, for individuals who have experience in their respective fields and who seek official recognition of their competencies, obtaining an AEC may enhance earning potential, provide greater job stability and accelerate entry into the job market.
ADDENDUM: In the video testimonial attached to this post, the candidate refers to RAC as a program. Though candidates often do this, RAC is in fact a service, not a program. Specifically, it is a service that is offered for a given program of study.
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