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.
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