Is Going Back to School the Best Next Step?

July 27, 2017

The results of a Harris survey for the University of Phoenix in Arizona found that nearly 80% of workers in their 20s said they wanted to change careers, followed by 64% of 30-somethings and 54% in their 40s.

Considering jumpstarting a new career?  Be sure to ask the following three key questions to determine if the time and career choice are right


Why do you want to back to school?  The most common reasons for going back to school are:

Desiring for more clout, credibility, authority and/or income

Not enjoying work at all

Witnessing the positive impacts of a colleague having gone back to school

Failing in a business

Determining your reasons ‘why’ is important because depending on your stage in life, it may be extremely difficult to balance school with your existing job and personal life.  Dale Carnegie’s 21st Human Relations principle, ‘Throw down a challenge,’ underscores the importance of hunkering down and challenging yourself to list at least three reasons going back to school would behoove you.  Once you have that list, it’s time to pose more questions.

How much will it cost you – emotionally, financially, and professionally and personally?  Heading back to school requires a commitment of many resources beyond money including time, energy and focus.  For example, if you have children, consider if you will have help at home while you attend courses and study, or determine the costs for their care.  You may have existing commitments such as holding a position within your community or children’s school that may negatively impact your ability to juggle schoolwork in addition to everything else.  Higher education is challenging enough.  To help set yourself up for success, honestly answer if you’ll have the energy and focus to make the investment worthwhile.

If you’re confident you’ll have sufficient resources, focus on the financials to ensure the educational costs are likely to be outweighed by the benefits.  While you won’t know with 100% certainty how soon the return on investment will be, it may behoove you to take a chance if you’re yearning to begin a new career.  Dale Carnegie once said, “Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.”  One way to defray the costs of higher education is to participate in a tuition reimbursement program if your employer offers one.  Many organizations offer such programs because they are mutually beneficial—you get a better education and job while the company gains a smarter, more-skilled employee. 

Is the career you’re most passionate about worth the investment?  Balance the career about which you are most passionate against its current market opportunities.  Some fields are growing quickly such as nursing, elementary education, accounting, market research analysis, dental hygiene, physical therapy and substance abuse counseling while others are waning.  Use career data tools to determine if your favorite field is worthy of pursuit.

Image: Pixabay

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