6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Go Back to School

Considering a return to school as an adult learner is a transformative decision that can reshape your career, personal growth, and even your identity. In this article, we look at key considerations that will help guide those who are thinking about pursuing further education. 

Whether you want to complete an unfinished degree, earn an advanced one, secure a certificate, or change career paths, we have outlined six essential questions to ask yourself. 

1. Why do I want to go back to school?

Going back to school is no easy feat, especially if you’re currently working. You likely have a slew of other adult responsibilities that are competing for your time. 

Having a clear purpose – whether to advance your career, improve your understanding of a subject, or another reason – can help foster the motivation you will need to complete this significant undertaking. 

2. Do I have a support system in place?

Adult students face different obstacles than younger students, and a support system is critical to help you manage all your responsibilities and your time. 

Consider how your friends, family, boss, and coworkers can support you in your journey. Make a plan to communicate your goals to those close to you and create a plan to handle your new schedule.  

3. How much will it cost?

You’ll need to understand your financial situation to properly evaluate whether or not you can afford to go back to school. Make a budget including tuition payments to see how school fits into your current spending and saving plan. 

In some cases, self-paced programs can be more affordable. Ask your employer if they offer tuition reimbursement or other financial support for continuing education. 

4. What is the return on investment?

Returning to school can offer many benefits, including increased earning potential, better career advancement opportunities, and enhanced personal happiness. 

According to the Social Security Administration, those with bachelor’s degrees can benefit financially. Men with a bachelor’s degree earn roughly $900,000 more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates and women with that degree earn approximately $630,000 more

Consider non-financial factors to understand what you get from going back to school. In some cases, something as simple as a better work/life balance may make it all worth it. 

5.  Which program is right for me?

Are there minimum standards you need to meet to achieve your goals? Do you require a certificate or a full degree? Which schools are accredited in the field in which I’d like to study

Answering these questions can help you hone in on the right choice of degree and school. You may also want to look at the faculty for schools you are considering to see the credentials of those instructing you.

6. What is the next step?

Set yourself up for success by creating a road map that outlines what you need to do at each stage of your continuing education journey. Map out all of the considerations above and break each down into steps to streamline the process. The right plan can help you achieve your goals efficiently and with less stress. 

You’ve taken a big step in thinking about going back to school. Do your homework to gain a thorough understanding of what that will mean for you, both professionally and personally. Then seize the day!

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