Trends in Higher Education shows that an American high school graduate who proceeds to earn a bachelor’s degree will earn 66 percent more income in his or her lifetime than a high school graduate who does not attend college. Additionally, those with bachelor’s degrees will also contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes.

And while nearly 70 percent of American high school students who graduated in the spring of 2016 enrolled in college courses directly, millions immediately joined the workforce in lieu of higher education.

When faced with financial instability, the obligation to support a young family or other unexpected obstacles in life, the dream of earning a degree can be deemed unrealistic. However, the Regents Bachelor of Arts (RBA) degree is quickly transforming the dream of attending college into a reality for many adult learners. This program, offered exclusively through colleges in West Virginia, has created a unique method of school for adults.

Defining the RBA: More Than a “School for Adults”

The West Virginia Department of Education’s main goal for the RBA is to enable adult learners to find success in the workplace, home and community through adult education programs. With a primary focus on career growth, the RBA is available to adults who have been out of high school at least four years and are eager to improve their career prospects. An alternative to the traditional college setting, the RBA offers flexibility in courses and allows students time to tend to life’s responsibilities.

One unique element that sets the RBA apart from other degree programs is the option of college equivalent credits (CEC). Such credits are designated as knowledge, skills and career training, and may be earned by RBA students through their work experience,. Students can combine them with credits earned through coursework to complete a degree in as little as two years.

Who Is the Ideal Candidate for an RBA Degree?

Factory model methods used by the United States’ public school system in the 1970s and 1980s proved to be ineffective in demonstrating the correlation between schoolwork and the real world. Therefore, when it comes to the workforce, a high school diploma today does not have the same value as it did a few decades earlier.

During this time, there also were many more well-paying jobs that did not require a college degree, which blurred the wage gap between those with and without a college education. Many who opted for the workforce in place of a college degree are now experiencing stagnating wages and career prospects.

But earning a college degree requires a significant investment of time and effort. The Regents Bachelor of Arts degree can help those who are struggling with:

  • The need for a different career path. Not only can earning a bachelor’s degree now provide financial stability in the future, but it can also aid in qualifying for career promotions and provide the opportunity to earn a master’s degree.
  • The need for flexibility. Earning a bachelor’s degree in the traditional college setting can be challenging when working full time and raising a family. The RBA provides flexibility to students who lack the time to travel to campus and participate in classwork each week.
  • Life’s unexpected obstacles. Whether it was family duties, financial debts, a low high school GPA or any other obstacle that prevented a high school graduate from attending or finishing college, the RBA offers a solution for achieving future success.

Use your work experience to complete your degree

The RBA program at West Virginia State University allows nontraditional students to finish their degrees and use their work experience as credit. Click the button below to learn more about the fully online Regents Bachelor of Arts.

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Adult Education Statistics

Jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree for entry make up one-quarter of the nation’s employment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increasing demand for credentialed employees is undeniable, yet an estimated 70 percent of adults in the United States do not have a college education.

The availability of careers not requiring a college degree is in a steep decline due to the rapid advancement of technology and the employers’ ability to replace human labor with machinery. In 1960, careers in farming, factory production, manufacturing and other traditional manual labor sectors were extremely popular among workers without college degrees. They were so popular, in fact, that they accounted for 32 percent of all American jobs. However, over the course of half a century, that number has plummeted to 17 percent and is expected to dwindle even further.

Raises for West Virginia’s Workforce

The current minimum wage in West Virginia is $8.75 per hour, meaning adults who work full time in a minimum wage position will earn $700 before tax in a biweekly paycheck — that’s $18,200 per year. According to a study published by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, this wage is not high enough for an adult to afford a debt-free lifestyle in the state of West Virginia.

On average, a family of two adults and two children living in West Virginia needs $4,850 per month to afford a comfortable living. This amount reflects the state’s average monthly costs for taxes, housing, child care, health care, transportation and food. Annually, that translates to more than $58,000 per year. If both adults in the family work full time in positions that pay minimum wage, the family’s combined annual income will fall short of that total by more than $21,000.

The average annual income for an adult living in West Virginia who has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree is $45,109, PayScale reports. For families with two adults working full time in positions that require a bachelor’s degree, the combined annual household income could reach $90,000. That is nearly $32,000 more than the income necessary to make ends meet for a family of four.

West Virginia’s RBA program is designed to elevate the financial positions of those who earn less income than is necessary to live comfortably. Through the means of specific courses and CECs, this new method of school for adults propels students into financial stability and brings forth countless new opportunities.

Note: PayScale salary information reflects available data at time of publication.

School for Adults Made Easy at West Virginia State University

Catering to the specific needs of its busy adult students, West Virginia State University’s fully online Regents Bachelor of Arts degree program takes flexible school for adults to the next level. Unlike traditional college courses that happen in classrooms, students enrolled in this program have the option to apply their skills and complete coursework without ever setting foot on campus. There’s never been an easier way to earn a degree and establish the foundation for a successful future.

Enroll today to unlock your potential.