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More colleges seeing older students looking for new opportunities

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More and more adults are going back to school. (February 22, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 This Morning at 6 o'clock / Monday, February 22, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. --- As Augusta's unemployment number hovers around 10%, local colleges are noticing a new trend. More adults in their 30's-60's are going back to school. They are hoping to gain an edge in the job market.

For years Amy Ingram was a stay-at-home mom, but her two boys are older now and she wants to join the workforce full time. Now, Ingram is a 49-year-old student back at school. "Mostly I feel like I'm their mother, but everybody is good," said Ingram. "I'm their friend. They don't look at me like I'm older, what are you doing here?"

She's majoring in accounting at Augusta Sate University. "It's a big adjustment--learning how to study all over again, and finding time to do that. It's a big adjustment," Ingram said.

But it's a requirement in her book. "Everybody wants a college degree. You have to have it to get into the door," she said.

"A lot of non-traditional students are coming back simply to enhance or update their skill sets," said Melissa Furman, an assistant dean at ASU's college of business. Furman also provides career counseling to many non-traditional students who are looking for a career change.

"Everyday careers are changing," Furman said. "One that exists today may not be in existence in three or four years when they get their degree. So diversify your skill set."

As Ingram tackles her homework, she's also juggling her family life. "I drop my son off at school, I head to work at 8'oclock, leave at 12:30, to be at school by 1pm."

Ingram hopes those busy schedules and all that hard work will pay off in the form of a full time accounting job when she graduates. She has two more years of school left.

There are a lot of factors to think about when you thinking about heading back to school, including money, time, and whether your degree is going to pay off. So do your research and ask potential employers if a degree is necessary or if they would prefer you to get certified in a specific field.

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