Back To School

Should You Go Back To School? 4 Factors To Consider

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Should you go back to school? Before you commit your time, money, and effort, be sure to consider these four things – You won’t regret it!

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

If you haven’t figured out the answer to this question yet, going back to school is not a good idea. Higher education costs have risen at a much faster rate than inflation over the last decade. The worst thing you could do is invest tens of thousands of dollars and years of your time into getting a degree, only to discover five years from now you’re no longer interested in the field you sacrificed so much to study.

Is There Job Growth In The Field That Interests You?

Once you’ve really determined what you’d like to do with your career, you should look at the jobs available in your field. Having a local university program in your city may allow you to attend school without making major life changes, but it may also release you into a saturated job market once you’ve finished your degree. It’s important to determine whether people are hiring in your desired field in the area in which you’d like to live—or anywhere for that matter.

How Much Will It Cost?

If you’re considering graduate school, there are many programs out there that include substantial financial aid packages to help you obtain your degree. There are also many loan forgiveness programs designed to attract educated professionals to underserved areas.

For example, a friend of mine just had $75,000 worth of vet school loans forgiven by the USDA, because she works in an area where there aren’t enough large animal vets. The military also offers great educational incentives, particularly for health care professionals. If you’re looking to start or finish an undergraduate degree, taking your required classes at your local community college can lower your total costs substantially. Lastly, modern distance learning programs allow many professionals to continue working full- or part-time while they further their education.

Will You Make Enough Money To Justify More Debt?

If you’re independently wealthy, you have the luxury of obtaining as much education as you’d like without worrying about the return on your investment. But for most of us, it’s crucial to take a hard look at whether more education is worth the expense. My friend is married to a CPA who decided to obtain a law degree in addition to his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting. The payment on his student loan debt is now higher than their house payment, and his salary went up only about $5,000/year.

For a lot of people, returning to school does make good, solid sense. If adjusting back to the student lifestyle allows you to obtain a degree that will get you hired into a field that pays well, go for it. Just be sure to give this major decision the consideration that it’s due.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter.

7 comments

  1. I enjoyed your article. It seems as though this article would talk someone out of getting an education, which is usually a bad idea. I agree that it is very expensive and should be considered heavily as an investment, but it can do lots of good. Sometimes people learn from education what they really want to do. Maybe in school they make more friends and learn how to communicate better. Going to college isn’t just about making more money down the road, its about differentiating yourself and figuring out how to achieve goals.

  2. I was lucky enought to get my MBA for free (ouside of paying for books and materials). It was hard not to pass up – so it was a ‘no-brainer’. But since I had gratuated I hvae not stopped learning. Is it worth it? I’ll let you know …

      • Yes and no … I am with the same organization but in a different postion (not a better one at that). Come to find out that management is intimidated by people with graduate degrees. We have had two Masters-level graduates leave our employer – others (myself included) are looking to make our exit as well.

  3. Jessica, I think the example you gave of your friend is the one I see most. Somewhere along the line we came to believe that more degrees will automatically equal more money. It doesn’t pan out that way. I read once that less than 50% of the people who get advanced degrees ever see the financial return on the investment. Now, if your true passion requires that degree, money may not be your main concern, but for most popele, the decision to get another degree is a finacnial one. I hope more people take pause before assuming a degree is a ticekt to more pay.

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