Thinking of heading back to school? What you need to think through first

Make sure you are financially and emotionally ready to become a student again.

Nothing makes a campus lawn seem greener than an unsatisfying job — or no job at all. “There’s certainly a lot of people who have chosen to [go back to school] in this economy,”  says CareerBuilder.com advisor Allison Nawoj. 

But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily join them. “First ask, ‘Why are you thinking about going back to school?’” urges Natascha F. Saunders, founder of Youth Career Coaching. “If it’s just, ‘I can’t find a job,’ that’s not good enough. You’re spending so much time learning new curriculum that you’re going to be frustrated if it’s not truly a desire for you to get those additional skills.”

Before you enroll full-time: “Take a few courses to test something out,” Nawoj encourages.

“There’s all kinds of continuing-education and evening courses offered at universities,” she adds. “Instead of enrolling at a formal program, that’s a great way to get your feet wet.”

Consider your study habits — are you emotionally ready? “People forget how you fall out of study mode,” Saunders stresses. “When you’ve been away for a long period of time, it’s hard to get started.

But if you feel like you’re in that zone, ready to hit the books, then go for it.”

Master’s Tip

At some point, you’ll likely need a master’s degree in many fields, Saunders says. The killer question is when. “Find some key  people in that sector and interview them: Do they have an advanced degree? If so, when did they get it? See some data, some facts on what is the norm, before you jump right in.”


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