With many Americans getting laid off, waiting out the recession while going back to school can sound like an excellent option. However, a poor job market shouldn't be your primary reason to go back to school. There are many things to consider when deciding if you would like to enroll.
What will the job market be like?
Researching the occupational outlook for careers is important to do before diving into getting a degree. If you are thinking about a certain profession, think about the stability and the job outlook after you graduate, the demand for workers in that industry can change dramatically by the time you are done. The occupational outlook handbook will give you information on the training and education needed, expected job prospects and information about the job market in each State. BLS.gov
What do I want to accomplish?
Why is going back to school on your mind lately? What is it that you're hoping to achieve by going back to school? Do you think that getting your MBA will help you getting a higher paying position? Keep in mind that if you have just gotten your four year degree and higher education isn’t necessary for your position then spending the money on school may not be beneficial. Consider different options such as taking other courses. This will expand your knowledge and help you excel in your current position.
Does my company offer tuition reimbursement?
If you have not been laid off but are thinking of returning to school inquire about tuition reimbursement from your company. If your company offers tuition reimbursement, consider the opportunity but also keep in mind that most companies only allow studies in areas that will benefit them and require a certain grade point average. Also research if there is a work guarantee involved stating that you will stay with the company for a specific amount of time.
How will I pay for school?
If you have been laid off or your company doesn’t offer tuition reimbursement, consider if going back to school is feasible. Research what the cost of your education will be and see if you are eligible for financial aid. Community colleges and technical schools are also offering great options to students from new backing they have received from the government.
Is this the right time?
Consider all your current time constraints when making your decision. Is this a good time for you to go back to school? Will you have help picking the kids up from school or daycare? Do you have the time you'll need to go to class, read, and study? Will you still have time to work and enjoy your family?
Consider how you are going to limit other activities in order to devote yourself to your studies. If it does not seem realistic, consider different online universities that are available.
Have I considered the alternatives?
Going back to school and earning a degree may not be the only way to get that promotion or raise you are looking for. Think about different alternatives that will strengthen your skills and experience. Attending classes at a local community college, pursuing an industry certification, volunteering or internships may be the boost you need to get you to the next level. By gaining valuable working experience you are beefing up your resume as well as strengthening your answers for interviews without the time and money it takes to graduate college. Vocational and technical schools are often a good alternative for hands on industry experience and certification.
When jobs are difficult to come by, going to graduate school can feel like a way to achieve professional progress. Earning an advanced degree has proved beneficial for many people's careers. But before you jump in headfirst, give careful thought to your decision and determine if going back to school is the only way to reach your goal.
Written by Melanie Fischer, Career & Job Expert who has been writing professionally for over 10 years.