Do I Need to Go Back to School?

While it’s good to have some work experience before going back to school, some advocates of continuing education say if you’re going to make the jump, it’s best to do it while you’re young, because you have fewer responsibilities and more flexibility.

Once you have a grasp on what’s important, ask yourself two crucial questions:

What do you believe a degree will give you?

Often, we think a new degree will give us exactly what we are looking for, but this is not accurate.  It’s important to do exhaustive research about the educational path you’re considering.  If you can, interview department heads and faculty at the institutions you’re considering.  Shadow professionals who’ve earned this degree and are applying it in their work lives.  Learn as much as you can about the careers this degree can lead to.  Make absolutely sure this is something you feel really excited to learn.  Figure out the trajectories of people who’ve earned this degree, and make sure these career paths seem to be a good fit for what you want.  Finally, ask, “Is it realistic for me to take this path at this time in my life?”  Evaluate what the return on investment will be, in order for you to feel it is worthwhile.

What will it cost you – emotionally, financially, and professionally?

Emotionally you will need to gear up and be in a good place so you can devote yourself to the highs and lows of education.  Going back to school, even if it’s taking online classes can take a toll on you emotionally if you are not ready or willing to devote time to learn. Don’t pursue a degree without understanding actually what it will demand of you.  If you have a family you will need to let them know that you will have to dedicate some of your family time to learning time.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”…..John Dewey

Financially, education can be expensive, but there are many online courses that save on significant costs.  With so many online college options, you have total access to anything and everything in Asheville. Ramping up your education, whether it be a four-year degree or just getting certification or training on any level is good. There are several online degrees and certification programs to choose from in Asheville. Here are just a few Asheville area colleges to choose from:  AB Tech, UNC Asheville, Blue Ridge Community College, South College, University of Phoenix.   As far as the financial piece of the puzzle, there is plenty of access to financing for your education. CFNC or Tuition Funding is a good place to start when looking at financing your education.

Professionally, you should ask if your current employer help pays for your degree. Many companies in Asheville will help pay for college tuition.  This would be the first question to ask, but make sure you are asking to advance your career with the company you work for or while in an interview you can ask the hiring manager if they have a reimbursement program.  Most companies will ask for a commitment to pay the tuition back if you do not continue to work for their company for a certain period of time.  You will want to make sure you are committed to learning and advancing with that company.

Once you have completed the self-assessment stage, researched the training or education you need, you are set and ready to take your career to a whole new level.  Happy learning!   

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