If you’re thinking about going back to school for an advanced degree, it’s important to consider the potential costs along with long-term rewards. Here are some questions to ask yourself before making a decision:
What does the advanced degree do for my earning potential? Are you thinking of getting an advanced degree for personal reasons or to get to the next level in your career? Will it get you closer to your financial goals, such as saving a down payment on a house, a more comfortable retirement, or getting a permanent life insurance policy like whole life insurance or universal life insurance? When making your decision, consider how much of a pay bump an advanced could provide.
What is the overall cost of getting this degree? How much will it cost to complete the degree? Will you have to take time off from work or go part-time? If so, factor this into your accounting. Tuition, fees, and books can add up quickly, so make sure you understand all the costs before you take the leap.
How long will it take to complete the program? Depending on your field of study and the type of degree you pursue, getting an advanced degree may take several years. Think about how much time this will take and whether you can be employed while pursuing your degree.
Are there online or part-time options available? Not all programs offer these options, but if they are available, they could help you balance a full-time job with your studies. Look into what programs are out there, their level of flexibility, how long they take, and their costs.
Do I need an advanced degree to move up in my current field? In some industries you need an advanced degree to qualify for certain jobs. Do your research and find out if a degree is necessary for the path you want to pursue.
Will I enjoy getting the degree? Going back to school can be very rewarding, especially if it’s for a subject that interests you. It’s a big commitment, so make sure you’ll enjoy the coursework. If you enjoy the degree program, that’s a good sign that you’ll enjoy working in the field, and the reverse is true—if you find the academic work tedious, you might have a hard time feeling passionate about the job.
Why do I want to get an advanced degree? This question can be a good way to check in with yourself and your motivations. Are you looking to learn more about a subject you love? Do you just want to have an advanced degree on your résumé? Are you taking a necessary step in advancing your career?
The bottom line
Going back to school is a big decision, and there are many things to consider. Ultimately, you are the only person who can decide if it’s the right move. Ask yourself if earning this degree will benefit your career in terms of both finances and job satisfaction. Consider the costs, time commitments, and available options. Finally, think about why you want to do this and make sure your motivations line up with what an advanced degree could offer you in the long run.