It’s interesting that in the past 3 months I have talked to over a dozen people whom I know that have asked me questions about going back to college because they just aren’t sure what to do. Several are currently unemployed, others are in the under employed category looking for a new challenge and the last category is those looking for a safety net should something happen to their current position or company. In my mind, unless your current company is footing the bill, the first thing I look at is Return on Investment both in time and money.
ROI: what is the total cost going to be if I finish on time? if I finish a semester later than I had planned? What am I currently making and how many hours am I working? What do I expect to make based on current open jobs in my geographic area? Take these figures and understand that they are reality. How long will it take you to make that money back?
It’s not all about the money: Quality of life is a big reason why people consider going back to school. So let’s analyze and define quality of life by answering some questions: What are the top 5 things that have me looking for a new opportunity (relate these back to your current job and what it is not allowing or giving you)? What are the top 5 things you get out of your job that are positive? List 8-10 things you are looking to gain from completing your degree. List the top 5 things you are looking to gain from a new career?
2nd Step: Put these away and look at them again within the week. Do these issues and goals truly mirror your thoughts and feelings? Are the goals and outcomes feasible? IF YES: are there other necessary achievments or steps needed to take beyond you schooling to meet your list? Are there any that can be attained without it? Great! start with those, you still have to select a program and register.
Determining the program/degree/certificate: What is the difference between a degree and a certificate? What will you need for your career choice? Are there jobs in your field of choice? Have you talked to people in the field? What do the academic advisors have to say re: salary expectations, career growth, hours? YOU CAREER COUNSELOR is not a fortune teller and cannot tell how long it will take for you to get a job. It truly depends on the work you do in and out of the classroom, you have to put the extra time in.
I am, by no means, bashing continuing your education and growing your knowledge base, actually I am all for it. I just want to be sure that your don’t go in to this thinking it will be a cure all or come with out work beyond just homework.