Your career choice can take you down many different paths. You may end up happy and successful with your current path, or you may find yourself yearning for something a bit more. For some, that may look like a simple job change. For others, that may mean going back to school to discover new opportunities.
If you’re on the fence about what path to choose, you’ll want to consider your options before committing to one or the other. While going back to school may make sense for your goals, it requires a heavy investment of time, money, and hard work. Here are four things to think about before deciding on your next move.
What’s making you consider a change?
Before making the decision to go back to school, you should consider why you are currently unhappy. Is it your job or company that may not be a right fit, or is it your career choice itself?
Here are some reasons it may make sense to go back to school:
- Continued education would qualify you for a large salary bump: If an additional degree is known to earn you more money in your current career, it may be something to seriously consider depending on your goals and upfront costs. However, if climbing the ladder will also earn you the same bump in salary, you might want to consider gaining the experience you need outside of the classroom.
- You want to pivot to a new career: If you’re looking to completely change careers, it might be necessary to continue your education in order to get your foot in the door in a new field.
- Your industry requires an additional degree in order to advance: Sometimes, to remain competitive in your field, you’ll be required to continue your education. While the choice is yours, you may feel the push to do so in order to keep up with changes in your industry.
Here are some issues that may not be resolved by going back to school:
- You feel bored or unmotivated: If you’re feeling unfulfilled at work, going back to school won’t necessarily fix this. If you feel unmotivated, you might just need a change of pace. Consider talking with your manager about your situation. If that doesn’t fix things, think about exploring new roles or companies that may be a better fit for you.
- You are unsure where you see your career heading: Many people face uncertainty at times, especially throughout their careers. But without certainty, you shouldn’t commit to going back to school for a degree you are unsure will benefit you in the long run. Instead, take time to figure out where you see yourself in the future. Consider reaching out to your network for advice, or working with a recruiter to find a role that may be a better fit for you. If you ultimately decide you see yourself on a totally different path, then you may want to consider going back to school to help you get there.
- You’re seeking immediate gratification: Earning a new degree and finding the right opportunity afterwards will take time and patience. If you’re looking for an immediate change, going back to school may not make sense for you. Instead, think about making a career move that would benefit your happiness and immediate goals.
Have you thought about your end goal?
When making a decision about the future of your career, it’s important to consider if you’re still “figuring things out.” If you haven’t aligned on an end goal, you likely aren’t ready to commit to going back to school. If you’re going to be putting in the time to further your education, you should be fully aware of your desired outcome when you become a proud owner of a new degree.
If you have thought about your long-term goal(s), have you considered the following?
- Are there ways to get there without going back to school?
- If you have made a pros and cons list, do the pros outweigh the cons?
What does your financial situation look like?
School is a huge commitment for many, especially on the financial front. If you’ll be investing your hard-earned dollars in a new degree, you’ll want to make sure you’ll get your money’s worth.
A few questions to ask yourself are:
- Does your current employer offer any type of education reimbursement?
- Is it feasible for you to continue working while going back to school?
- Are you eligible for any scholarships or financial aid?
- Will you be able to pay off any debt incurred when you graduate?
The answers to these questions should help you decide if, financially, this decision will pay off in the end.
Have you done your research?
Like any situation, you’ll want to approach this one fully prepared. Make sure you have done your research. Consider all your options and what approach will give you your desired outcome. If it means taking a leap to go back to school—make sure you consider schools with programs that will maximize your opportunities. If it means finding a company and role that better aligns with your values, skills, and goals, then make sure you don’t settle for something that doesn’t. In the end, taking the time to investigate your options and figure out what is right for you will set you up for success.