Research in Higher Education

, Volume 56, Issue 5, pp 510–533 | Cite as

The Assumed Benefits and Hidden Costs of Adult Learners’ College Enrollment

  • Kyung-Nyun KimEmail author
  • Rose M. Baker


This study investigates the effects of adults’ enrollment in and graduation from a two-year college on their hourly wages and occupational status in U.S. by employing a growth curve model and a piecewise model. College enrollment reduced hourly wages and occupational status by 13.8 % and 2.74 points, respectively. Less-educated workers whose wages were the main source of income were more likely to compromise their occupational status for a better work-study balance and thus to realize wage penalties during schooling. While a two-year college degree acquired in adulthood had significant positive effects on hourly wages and occupational status, the said positive economic returns from the degree were moderated by their self-esteem.


College enrollment Adult learner Wages Occupational status Self-esteem Piecewise growth modeling 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education & TrainingSeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Learning & Performance SystemsThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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