Going Back to College for a Better Career
Many people interested in changing careers will ask themselves, “should I go back to college after graduating?” Answering that question can be tough. Depending on your career goals, personal obligations, and even your age, going back to college may be a great idea for some and a terrible idea for others. Yet, by exploring some of the benefits of going back to college, you can better determine whether going back to school is the right call for you.
Should You Go Back to College for a Better Career?
The benefits of a college education are relative to each individual and their career goals. Some of those benefits depend on what point in your life that you attend school. For instance, someone who’s going back to college at age 55 may have fewer years in the workforce remaining than someone age 35.
Likewise, there are always opportunity costs associated with going back to college after graduating, because it can prevent you from working full time. This can mean major lifestyle changes, including a decrease in income coupled with the added cost of tuition to further your education.
But what if the position you’re interested in requires a degree? By 2020, it’s estimated that nearly two thirds of all jobs will require postsecondary education -- a trend that’s expected to continue into the future. For people interested in returning to school for a career change, obtaining further education can make a lot of sense.
The Benefits of Going Back to College
While we’ve examined a few areas where you may want to pause while considering going back to school, there are also some definite benefits that come with going back to college:
- You are prepared for success. Compared to most students, adults who return to college tend to be self-motivated, successful students who pursue their graduation with fervor. Having more life experience and work experience also makes lessons easier to relate to what you already know.
- You are goal-focused. When you have a specific career change in mind, it’s easier to see how the things you’re learning directly pertain to achieving your goals. Goal focused students know what they need to learn, and can better prepare themselves for success.
- Your lifetime earnings will likely increase. Restarting with a new career often means taking an immediate reduction in your salary. Yet, in the long run, the more educated you are, your earning potential rises. Going back to college may also show future employers that you’re motivated and willing to continue learning.
Does Age Matter When Going Back to College?
If you’re going back to college at 30, earning that degree will provide an increase in your earnings. As a result, those benefits have decades to accumulate. However, if you’re going back to college at 40 or older, then the financial benefits of returning to school may not be completely counterbalanced by the cost of tuition.
Of course, going back to school isn’t just a financial decision. It’s always worth pursuing work you love -- at any age. Although older adults typically have more commitments and responsibilities that require consideration, the availability of online courses can provide some helpful flexibility.
What Should You Go Back to College For?
If you’ve decided that returning to school would be a good decision, then you’ve probably started wondering, “what should I go back to college for?” Making career decisions can be intimidating and difficult, but a good way to start is by appraising your current circumstances and your career aspirations.
Some of the best options for a career change may include careers that you would never think of on your own, or even careers that didn’t exist the first time you were a student, like working as a social media specialist. There are also many careers that depend on transferable skills that allow you to utilize your previous career experience as a benefit in your new career. For example, studying to become a market research analyst or an actuary.
Alternatives to Consider
Speaking of transferable skills, it’s important to remember that not every career change requires additional education. In many industries, the ideal job candidate is actually a person who has skills and experience from previous, seemingly unrelated careers. That includes a number of opportunities in the non-profit sector and the risk management industry.
For example, an insurance analyst could benefit from previous career experience in finance, business, economics, accounting, and countless other fields. A risk management specialist could benefit from careers where they got management experience, developed communication skills, or required great multitasking. Chances are, you likely already have those kinds of transferable skills from your prior work experiences.
It can be tough to decide if going back to college is the right call. But you can use the Career Wizard Tool to identify a few careers suitable for your personality and experience. From there, you’ll be able to explore a wealth of career path options that could be uniquely suited to you.