Making the decision to return to school is a big one. Many people dream about new careers, whether because of boredom, desire for more money, or pursuing a passion they've had for ages. How do you know if going back to school is the right decision for you? Ask yourself why are you considering going back to school. If several of the following answers ring true, going back to school may well be the right choice for you:
You Are Motivated by Your Own Passion
Many factors motivate people to return to school. Perhaps you are aiming for a promotion at your current job. Perhaps you hate your job now and want a more stimulating career. You might even be close to retirement but want to try a career you've always dreamed about. Be sure that you go back to school for yourself, that you are truly motivated and not being pressured by others. It is your effort that will see you through to complete your new degree.
This New Career Is in a Growing Field
With the state of the economy these days, it is essential to consider your job prospects when you complete your degree. Maybe you've always wanted to be a chef (or zookeeper, college professor, etc.) but there are not many businesses hiring in that field. Know the job market. Do your research. Look at the projections of the fields that will likely grow in the coming years. Accounting, computer software engineering and registered nursing are some up-and-coming fields.
You Can Afford to Go Back to School
Everyone knows that higher education is not free, or even cheap, for that matter. How will you pay for school? Be sure to do your homework on financial aid-- grants, student loans, and even pay-as-you-go options are available, depending on where you do your studies. Just be careful not to use your emergency fund or retirement savings to fund your schooling. Some companies offer tuition reimbursement to their employees (just be sure to check if you have to maintain a certain G.P.A. to keep your funding). And borrow only as much as you feel comfortable borrowing. After all, you are the one who will have to repay your debts when you've completed your degree.
It's the Right Time for You to Be a Student
While investing in your education is one of the best things you can do for yourself, you must think about the practical side of being a student. Will you have the time you need to go to class, read, study, and complete your assignments? Do you have small children who will need to be looked after? Do you have supportive people in your life to keep you healthy and motivated when the stress of school kicks in? While you are the one going back to school, you'll want to pursue your studies when it fits in with the rest of your life outside school. Some programs allow students to do much of their coursework online, which works well for people with complicated schedules. Other degree or certificate programs require a certain number of hours/weekends on campus. Seek out programs that fit in well with your lifestyle. With some hard work, you will feel fantastic as you take the steps necessary in pursuing your new career.
About the author: Alicia Klepeis is a freelance writer living in upstate New York. A former middle school geography teacher, she has written for the National Geographic Society, as well as magazines including The Dollar Stretcher, Fun For Kidz, Kiki and Sprinkles. She also writes for Suite 101. Her website is www.aliciaklepeis.com.