Back to School: To Go or Not to Go

It’s difficult to decide whether or not to go back to school to pursue another degree or certificate or even to just take classes. It can mean leaving a job and most certainly spending a lot of money, time and energy. So how do you go about figuring out whether or not to go back to school and when?

Use your alumni network – Many people have made this decision before you. Utilize their experience and advice. Search your alumni networks through online databases, calling your former school, or attending alumni events. Develop a list of substantive questions and set up a time to talk or meet with a few people who studied something in which you are interested. When you speak with them, ask questions and listen, listen, listen. People love talking about themselves; share what you have to in order to explain your situation but don’t go overboard. You want to learn from their experience.

Visit the schools in which you are interested - Call admissions offices and set up an appointment to visit. Make sure to ask if you can observe a class or two. This will help you get a feel for the type of students in the program and the professors. Ask admissions professionals questions like what former students end up doing after the program ends and how many students graduate.

Talk to professors in your field of interest – The benefit of connecting with professors is that it can help you decide whether you are as passionate as you think about your prospective field. They can also shed light on the kinds of jobs to expect after graduating.

When you take all of this into consideration, you then need to decide whether you want to keep working while you are in school or quit your job; how many classes to take at a time if you have a choice; and how to finance it if your company won’t help you out. I recommend only going to graduate school if you know exactly what you want to do or have such an interest in a subject that you are sure it would enrich your life in some way.

It’s difficult to decide whether or not to go back to school to pursue another degree or certificate or even to just take classes. It can mean leaving a job and most certainly spending a lot of money, time and energy. So how do you go about figuring out whether or not to go back to school and when?

Use your alumni network – Many people have made this decision before you. Utilize their experience and advice. Search your alumni networks through online databases, calling your former school, or attending alumni events. Develop a list of substantive questions and set up a time to talk or meet with a few people who studied something in which you are interested. When you speak with them, ask questions and listen, listen, listen. People love talking about themselves; share what you have to in order to explain your situation but don’t go overboard. You want to learn from their experience.

Visit the schools in which you are interested - Call admissions offices and set up an appointment to visit. Make sure to ask if you can observe a class or two. This will help you get a feel for the type of students in the program and the professors. Ask admissions professionals questions like what former students end up doing after the program ends and how many students graduate.

Talk to professors in your field of interest – The benefit of connecting with professors is that it can help you decide whether you are as passionate as you think about your prospective field. They can also shed light on the kinds of jobs to expect after graduating.

When you take all of this into consideration, you then need to decide whether you want to keep working while you are in school or quit your job; how many classes to take at a time if you have a choice; and how to finance it if your company won’t help you out. I recommend only going to graduate school if you know exactly what you want to do or have such an interest in a subject that you are sure it would enrich your life in some way.