When Should I Go Back to School?

back to school

This is a guest post by Austin. You can read the guidelines to guest posting at our write for us page.

A wave of professionals hit the shores of grad school every time a news outlet breathes the word “recession.” Suddenly, their own education isn’t good enough, and their job isn’t secure enough. Though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting a masters or a doctorate degree, there’s something to be said for taking a minute to plan and figure out what would help you reach your goals before signing off on financial aid papers.

Have a goal:

If your goal is simply to keep the position you have, don’t run off to grad school just yet. Talk to your supervisors and mentors and ask them what types of courses could help you further your career in the company. You’re going to be looking for something that will add value to your work. Just getting a master’s degree may not be enough to get you a raise or make you stand out amongst your peers—you want something that will help you do something you can’t or don’t do now.

If you’re a teacher, think about if adding a second language to your repertoire could make you a more attractive candidate next time someone is up for a raise. Adding Spanish will allow you to start a language club or help other teachers communicate with native Spanish-speaking parents.

However, if your goal is to become principal, you may consider continuing your education with more advanced child psychology, learning and development classes.

Find ways to achieve it:

The worst thing you can do in a recession is to let go of a job in the field that you want to be in. Unless you’re laid off or fired, it’s not a good idea to go to grad school full time just on scholarships. Do everything you can to continue gaining experience in your field. Some options to consider are distance learning and pursuing an online degree.

Nearby colleges will usually offer courses later in the day or at night, so consider picking up a few of the heavier courses that meet once or twice a week.

Network:

Networking has always been the key to successful careers. Don’t forget to work what you already have. If you’re looking for more responsibility, try climbing the ladder of the company that already knows you instead of assuming you’ll have to find a new company to get a new position. Let your supervisors know what you’re passionate about doing, and that you’re furthering your education to get there. That shows a dedication that they’ll likely respond to.

If you do decide to move to a new company, let your superiors know that, too, in certain cases. Obviously if they demand absolute loyalty despite the fact they can’t or won’t promote you, don’t tell them you’re searching for another position.

However, if you have the kind of boss that sees him or herself as a mentor, feel free to ask them to help you find a position that you’ll be more suited to, regardless if it’s inside or outside the company.

Don’t forget to update all of your social profiles, like LinkedIn and Google+, to reflect the fact that you’re intent on moving into a new field or simply growing in the one you’re in. Many times networks are the best place to begin a search, since a fellow college alum is more likely to recommend you than someone they found on Monster.com.

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