Like most everyone else, you want to make something of your life. Doing so these days typically requires pursuing one of any number of lucrative careers. Yet it is also the case that pursuing these any one of these careers means going back to school.
You find yourself with a choice to make: You must decide whether to continue down the career path you're already on, or to go back to school in order to train for a new one. Informing your choice are certain considerations. Maybe your current career presents you with a dead end. Maybe your current career doesn't offer you sufficient mental stimulation. Maybe you feel you just need to shake things up in your life, and a career change would be just the sort of beneficial upheaval you'd need. Whatever the motivation behind it, your decision will be a momentuous one, because going back to school represents a significant financial and time commitment.
The trick is to figure out whether the commitment is worth it. Specifically, does the profession you have in mind stand as one of the careers worth going back to school for? If it is, then it stands to reason that the degree requisite to that career is one of the degrees worth going back to school for.
As tough as your decision is, you can at least take comfort in the fact that by answering one question, you essentially answer both. Discovering careers worth going back to school for means discovering degrees worth going back to school for, and vice versa. The elegant symmetry of this not only brings a bit of efficiency to your decision-making, it bring also some relief.
This relief comes only after much exertion. The amount of effort that you expend, however, can be significantly reduced if you set about making your decision in a sensible way. There are eight simple questions that you must answer for yourself in order for you to discover degrees worth going back to school for (which of course also means careers worth going back to school for). These questions are:
- What has prompted you to consider going back to school in the first place? Boredom or stagnation are the most frequently cited reasons for wanting to go back to school. If you think going back to school to earn a certificate or degree will help your career prospects, either by helping you to pivot into another job or to win a promotion, then you're probably in the right "headspace" to make a serious go at higher education. If you confess to having an insatiable curiosity, this also puts you on a proper footing for eventual academic success.
- What is it that you wish to accomplish, exactly? This second question is closely related to the first, but it applies more to you if you have already gone some way down a career path, and you wish to continue down it. Say, for instance, you're in business but wish to specialize in supply chain managment, human resource management, or accounting. If this describes your situation, then any degrees that grant make you more specialized a worker in your existing career field are worth going back to school for.
- Is going back to school within your financial power? The price of a college degree is high, and it creeps higher with each passing year. The decision whether a career or a degree is worth going back to school for depends to a great extent on hard-nosed economic analysis. You shouldn't spend more than you reasonably expect to make over a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, you'd be pursuing the degree more for its intrinsic value than for its market value.
- Are there means at your disposal at your present job that would allow you to go back to school? Many companies offer employees tuition reimbursement for any additional education they might pursue in order to advance their careers with the organization. You should definitely check, then, to see if your employer offers such a plan.
- Would your career be worse off should you not go back to school for additional degrees or certifications? Again, the decision comes down to a cost-benefit analysis, which you ought not to treat lightly. Failing to go back to school can lead to foreclosed possibilities for advancement or greater earning. More often than not career promotions are definitely worth going back to school for.
- Are you at a place in your life where you can go back to school for a degree? This is more an emotional or psychological than an economic consideration. You should consider closely the conditions of your life, particularly those that would make difficult going back to school for a degree or for career advancement. These include existing occupational and familial responsibilities, any unique stressor impinging on you, the amount of free time you currently enjoy - and would be willing to give up in order to go back to school.
- Are there degree programs that you can realistically expect to enter? In order to go back to school for a degree or a career change, you have to have a school to go to. Fortunately, the existence of private-sector career and online colleges means that would-be degree seeker have more options before them than at any other time in history.
- Do you have available to you adequate support? Should you elect to go back to school for a degree or a career change, you're going to need people behind you. Otherwise getting that degree will prove an arduous and lonely task, indeed. Reflect on your present circumstances to determine whether you enjoy the level of support from family and loved ones to make that decision.
The road to a degree or career worth going back to school for is a long, difficult one. But at the end of it many rewards await you. Pluck, courage, and a bit of sense can carry you a long way down that road. Like so many other things in life, success is determined largely by keeping your goal in view. These qualities can make any career or degree worth going back to school for!