Deciding if now is the right time to go back to school can be difficult. Some people might find it akin to trying to decide when the right time is to buy a house or to have a child. There may be no perfect moment. But waiting for one benchmark after another to be met before you make your move could have you waylaying your chance to further your education to the point where it is no longer feasible or reasonable.
And if you wait for the stars to align, you may miss the opportunity altogether and never actually take the plunge. So here are a few things to consider when deciding if now is the right time to go back to school.
Going back to school may never have been easier. With the proliferation of online degree programs, and now with many campus-based institutions beginning to offer coursework online as well, options for attaining or continuing an education by way of the Internet are numerous and available to a broad audience.
Whether as a full-time four-year degree option, a way to obtain a master’s degree or PhD, or as an opportunity to take a refresher course or two in an area pertaining to your job or career, online educational programs make going back to school much easier now than it may have been just a decade ago. Online programs may enhance the financial feasibility of furthering an education as well.
During tough economic periods the thought of going back to school can be tempting, especially after a job loss or pay cut, but doing so can be dangerous if you are not financially prepared for the repercussions. While loans may be available and easily obtained, these can be tempting options for quick money, but they can bring on a heavy debt load for which you may be unprepared.
However with lower interest rates available on many such loans, if you are serious about your schooling and understand the debt responsibility you are undertaking, these may be feasible financial options for funding your education.
And if you have savings to rely upon, you may also want to consider current and future financial ramifications upon this asset of going back to school, be they good or bad. It can be important to weigh your options heavily and layout out just how much your schooling will cost as well as future income or job benefits or detractors due to this education and the time it takes to obtain.
Burning through your savings or taking on a heavy debt burden for a job that may not increase your income potential, may not be a worthwhile move.
Deciding how much your schooling will cost, whether future income potential due to your furthered educational level will increase, by how much, what the chances of this increase actually happening are, and what will happen if it doesn’t are all areas of consideration when deciding if now is the time to go back to school.
And lastly, you may want to ask yourself whether you going back to school will set you back on other financial or personal goals and how such schooling could affect your current job situation if one exists, as well as your performance at that job?
There is another aspect to be considered when deciding if now is the right time to go back to school, and that is of job security. Two major factors can come into play when considering job security, the first of which is current job security and how going back to school might affect it, and the second is future job security and how furthering your education might affect that.
When pondering how going back to school might affect your job, or vice versa, you may have to make some tough calls. If you are going to work during your schooling, how might your studies interfere with your performance at work? Will you be sidetracked? Will you be tired from studying?
Will your schoolwork lower your performance; affecting performance goals and possible income increases, making your ability to sustain productivity in an already harsh work environment more difficult, and thereby increasing your chances of putting yourself on the chopping block should layoffs occur?
Or will your drive to go back to school and increase your skills and abilities make you more attractive to your employer, showing him or her that you are willing to work hard and do what it takes to get ahead in life? Will this increase your job stability? Will your employer even be willing to contribute financially to further your educational dreams?
If you aren’t currently working, or are looking to change jobs or career paths, it may also be wise to consider how your schooling may affect future job security and success. Is it worth putting the time and money into schooling when an uncertain job market might lie before you? And is your choice of degree really needed at this point in order to get the type of job or career you want?
These are all areas that can have a significant impact upon your decision as to whether now is indeed the right time to go back to school.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. The author is not an educational professional or academic advisor. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.