DEGREES DURING LOCKDOWN: More adults seeking degrees, skills during pandemic

Google searches for online degrees increased 300%
Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 5:19 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The coronavirus pandemic may be encouraging more adults to gain a college education or complete unfinished degree programs.

Searches on Google show an increased interest in online degree programs. The company saw searches peak at record levels throughout the pandemic.

Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) is also seeing more adults looking into their degree programs.

“The pandemic has really made a difference in people realizing that increasing their education and their skill set is probably a good idea,” John Broderick, instructor of psychology at CLTCC, said. “What better time when almost everything is offered in an online setting.”

The push to virtual was difficult for many at CLTCC. Many courses in welding, carpentry and other technical areas require hands-on learning to master the craft.

“I think a month into the semester, COVID-19 really kind of hit. It displaced a lot of people,” Dan Bowdon, a senior studying electrical technologies at CLTCC, said.

Bowden said the pandemic forced some of his classmates out of degree programs because of challenges.

“There was a screaming period where people were a little bit more worried about how we’re going to make it work,” he said. “CLTCC did a phenomenal job accommodating students and making it to where they can continue their education with minimal disturbance to the process.”

Throughout the pandemic, many people saw their hours slash or lost their jobs entire.

Many turned to the internet to find new jobs or gain more skills.

“Well, for a lot of folks right now, college is just out of reach. You know people are working. They’re working hard and they don’t have time to sit in the classroom,” Lisa Gevelber, Vice President at Grow with Google, said. “That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have access to great jobs.”

To keep up with the demand, Google created an online platform, It helps people looking to gain more skills and better employment.

“We work directly with employers to ask them what skills they need to have, so anyone can access training directly online at their own time and their own pace,” Gevelber said.

Gevelber said improving access to education is crucial for future economic development and equity.

Marsha Butts, a CLTCC student studying drafting and design technologies, said the most important thing for adults looking to further their education is to try.

“I think it is well worth it to go back and finish what you start,” Butts said. “If nothing else, the personal accomplishment to be able to sit back and say ‘I did this. It’s done.’”

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