"Going back to school" can mean different things to people at different stages of their lives and careers. Sometimes this means completing a GED, and sometimes it means taking a few night courses for a new IT certification. Sometimes it means quitting a full-time job, moving to another state, and completing a full residency program for a Masters or PhD. In almost every case, the decision to head back to the classroom means making space in a busy schedule for coursework and late night study sessions. And sometimes it means shelling out significant money upfront or committing to an interest-bearing loan.
No matter what, going back to school can come with risk, investment, and commitment that will need to be measured against potential rewards. Here are a few great reasons—and some less-than-great reasons—to jump into this investment with both feet.
Three Excellent Reasons to Go Back to School
If any of the following reasons hit close to home, then it's time to pick up your textbooks:
1. You're restless and ready to take your career to the next level.
You've taken your career about as far as you can go without a masters/PhD/certification/JD, etc. Now you're ready for the next challenge and ready to add a few more fancy letters to the end of your name. You can't wait to gain exposure to professors and others who have something to teach you, and you're ready to march into your boss's office and demand the promotion you can't really earn without these additional credentials.
If this is your situation, go for it, and let nothing hold you back. As the Bhagavad-Gita reminds us, "the mind is restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding." The best parts of our nature are those that push us to learn, to strive, and to grow.
2. You'd like to start over.
Your current career has run its course, and it's time for a fresh start. In this case, the sooner you make the leap, the better. Most people in our country change careers at least twice during the course of their working lives, and it's never too late, in writing or in life, to revise.
3. You'd like to go back and finish what you started.
If you dropped out of high school, never finished college, or never completed your final PhD dissertation, don't let this decision haunt you any further. Rout the demons of doubt and regret and take care of your unfinished business.
Two Reasons That May Require More Soul Searching
If you're going back to school for the following reasons, you might be taking a big step in the wrong direction:
1. You're motivated by fear.
If you're only contemplating this move because you're unemployed and afraid potential employers will question the gap on your resume, reconsider. Most employers don't hinge important hiring decisions on minor details like this, and an attempt to please the ones that do may not be worth thousands of dollars and years of effort.
If your fears are just generated by the abyss you're staring into, and you're heading back to school simply because you have no idea what else to do with your life right now, be patient. There are options and alternatives all around you—you just need a clear head and clear eyes to see them.
2. You're gambling…and you're not holding a very strong hand.
If your degree will cost more than the benefits it will bring to your lifetime earnings, find another way to learn what you'd like to learn. Again, teachers are all around you. So are books, internet resources, local workshop courses, mentoring programs, and other forms of exposure that can provide a more practical and less expensive path to the same destination.
Make the Most of the Credentials You Have
Before you make your decision, get ready to make the most of the credentials you've already earned. Leverage the education section of your resume to your best possible advantage. Visit MyPerfectResume for more on how to do this and for a resume builder that can help you showcase your hard work and investment.