Gone are the days when one works for a company all of his/her life and retires with a gold watch or pen.

In today’s world, workers often find they are doing multiple jobs within a company or a company downsizes and they’re all of a sudden out of a job. In order to keep current on job skills and find gainful and emotionally fulfilling work, sometimes you must return to school.

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When economic conditions worsen and people lose their jobs, they turn to higher education – and community colleges in particular – to enhance their skills or to create an entirely new career path.

Local colleges and universities are seeing an increase in enrollment, meaning Dallas residents have caught on to the trend of what makes an appealing employee.

“When the economy is bad, people go back to school,” said Ann Hatch, district director of media relations, who noted that the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) has seen an increase of 20 percent in enrollment over the past five years for all seven of the system’s colleges.

“We encourage our students to commit themselves to complete their degrees and certificates. We are helping veterans through a new program called College Credit for Heroes. Our students have opportunities to obtain scholarships, intern with businesses and organizations and to serve their communities. We are colleges that our communities turn to for education, economic development and service to others,” said Hatch.

With increased enrollment comes the need for more instructors. Starting pay for adjunct professors at DCCCD is $45.09 per contact hour for no more than nine credit hours per semester. While permanent positions are still harder to come by, part-time teaching means a foot in the door for those who have good people skills and want to share their knowledge with others.

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Teaching online is also an option, and all major institutions of higher learning offer opportunities for students to learn and for teachers to instruct via the Internet.

Online learning options can be ideal for people who want to start or complete a degree, have demanding jobs that require them to travel or have family commitments.

As companies migrate south to North Texas to take advantage of tax breaks and warmer weather, more people move to the Metroplex and start families. Having a strong education base is vital for the cities’ growth.

People interested in teaching K-12 can start building a teaching foundation at a community college and then transfer to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor’s degree, which is required in K-12. They can also continue on to earn graduate degrees and either teach or become administrators.

Whether one wants to teach or learn, education is the key that unlocks both.

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Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and
enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com