To go Back to School, or Not to go Back to School?
By Fiona Liaw
The decision to go back to school is a big one. Whether full-time or part-time, it entails massive commitment. The costs of tuition fees, your time, and the loss of income are high, but the potential benefits – of self-improvement and better employment prospects – can be higher. The problem is, everyone you speak to has a different opinion and at the end of the day, you will not know how much you can gain until you try it out yourself.
To save you the trouble of driving yourself deeper into this dilemma, we have sieved out the most common reasons for and against further education to help you sort out your decision process.
I do Not Know What to do
You might want to return to school because you are tired of the working world. Or maybe you just graduated and you are not sure what your next step should be. Either way, going back to school will help you improve your skills and give you the time you need to figure things out, right?
Yes, and no. Further education is still a huge, time-consuming commitment. With assignments and projects, you might not have the time you need. Also, if taking a break is truly what you are looking for, there are other alternatives to consider. You could travel, volunteer, or try a new hobby. These can be shorter-term, cheaper, equally enriching and best of all, will afford you what you need most - time to think.
This Will Help Me Get a Job
Another reason to return to school is to improve your career prospects or change industries.
If you are a fresh graduate, ask yourself: would a higher qualification be more valuable than work experience? After all, the year or two you spend away from the workforce is also a year or two that your career is being put on hold. If your ideal career choice does not require a higher qualification to enter the industry, perhaps you do not need to rush to obtain one.
If you are a job-seeker looking for a mid-career switch, consider if the industry you want to enter is one that is doing well. If it is not, the degree may not help, and a higher qualification in particular could work against you if you are “over-qualified”.
I am too old
From the other camp, you might be resistant to returning to school because you think you are too old for it. Past a certain age, with financial and family commitments, giving up a stable job can be a huge risk. Also, having been away from school for so long, you might worry about being able to adapt.
If this is your main concern, your decision depends on how comfortable you are with status quo. In some industries, a higher qualification will open doors to more growth opportunities. With age, comes experience that you can translate to your schoolwork. If you are frustrated with being stagnant at your job, then emotional and financial risks of further education – whether part-time or full-time – is a price that you just have to pay.
It is too Expensive
Besides the cost of education, it is also the cost of your time and for full-time studies in particular, the added loss of income if you resign from your job.
Check up on the industry salary benchmark. If it costs $100,000 for a year’s worth of tuition fees, determine the number of years you need to recover this cost and if you feel it is worth it. Also there are many ways to reduce the financial burden. Research on scholarships you can apply for and grants from the government that can subsidise your learning. There are options for distance-learning and part-time studies so you do not need to quit your job.
Ultimately, continued learning can have many benefits, ranging from self-improvement to a higher pay cheque and more job opportunities. To tap on these advantages, the decision to go back to school must be well thought out, researched, timed and planned.
However, if you are looking to take up a short-course instead, head on over here to find out more!