Increasingly, a college degree is a standard requirement in many job markets. Even those with many years of professional experience are finding that without a degree, job prospects can be severely limited.
It’s become a common sentiment: “In order for me to get ahead, I needed a higher degree.”
Hugh Rosen, a non-traditional student who is back in college for the third time, said this was his motivation for attending the University of New Mexico and graduating with a degree in organizational leadership.
His pursuit of an education past high school began in 1992 when he went to culinary school, because he wanted to become a part of higher management at Walgreens, where he worked for 20 years, he said.
Once Rosen left the workforce, he said he realized he was not “catching up with the real world,” which prompted him to attend Central New Mexico Community College in 2013 before attending UNM.
At 50 years old, Rosen said the college experience has changed immensely from his first introduction 25 years ago.
“I didn’t know you had to bring a laptop to class. A lot of things are group presentations...There’s a lot more camaraderie with people. It’s just different from the ’90s,” he said.
Rosen said he experienced some difficulty connecting with his peers, but he became a member of a professional fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, and has found the experience rewarding.
“A lot of people are afraid to approach older people,” he said. “When everyone else is 18 or 21, it’s difficult trying to relate to them on their level. I’m probably the oldest in the fraternity, but it’s been a really great experience learning from them and doing some mentoring myself.”
Despite his original intentions to end his formal education with his bachelor’s degree, his professor Harry Van Buren convinced him to pursue a master’s degree beginning in the Spring semester.
“I had never heard anything like that. This professor approached me and said he felt that if I continued with my education, it would benefit me,” he said.
Long term, Rosen said he hopes to re-enter the job market in corporate leadership.
He said he finds value in the diversity of UNM and his experience here will help shape his future.
“I just see things in a different light,” he said. “I’m more motivated to be calmer and see the big picture. Now I have a little autonomy and feel freer.”
Gabriella Rivera is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gabbychlamps.