If you’ve ever been thinking about going back to studying but were never sure about how to go about it, this might be the right reading piece for you. Similarly, if you’ve just finished/are about to finish your Bachelor’s degree and are not sure what the next step should be – work or study – then this might be helpful for you as well.
I personally think that formal studying is a great way to get ahead and just keep learning. The reason is simple, it just forces you into reading more, interacting with new people and getting exposed to different perspectives. At the same time I am also a big fan of practical decisions. If a degree is not bringing you any value other than debt, then it’s really a no brainer.
This post is all about weighing in the decision factors. I actually also wrote a post about my experience with studying my Master’s Degree online while working full time and you can read more about it here.
Before you make a decision, there are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Do I enjoy studying (not learning but studying)? Once you enroll into a Master’s degree you will have to read a lot, write many papers and submit lots of assignments. If you are not too much into that, then … maybe learning by doing is really your thing (read: leveraging work experience instead). Here, you would need to figure out whether committing to a year or two of studying is the right thing for you or you will end up dropping out or postponing.
- Do I already know what I want to do in my career? If you do, and it requires some sorts of formal education, then pursuing further education might just be the right thing for you. Similarly, if you know that having a Master’s Degree on your CV will increase you chances for getting past the initial screenings of your dream job, then by all means go for it. The objective here is to do some self introspection as well as the due diligence on any industry you want to enter/succeed in and figure out if you would really benefit from another degree and how would it fit into the overall picture.
- Can I accommodate the studying into my current lifestyle? Have you just started a new job, made a big career change or just became a mother? Depending on where you’re at in your life, it might or not be the right moment for pursuing more education. There will be a lot of time that will have to be invested in researching universities/business schools, preparing application materials and of course, once you start, studying.
Some other things that you need would be getting your priorities straight in order to figure out how you should go about going back to studying. Maybe you need to go for a full-time program or a part-time/online one would do the part.
- Can you afford studying full-time … without going into debt I would add? As a European, where getting a degree is not synonym with getting into debt, I believe it’s extremely important to take the time to engage in introspection and delve into the costs and benefits of a degree. For example, after finishing my Bachelor’s Degree, I really wanted to go for a two-year Master’s Degree in Public Policy that I was accepted into. However, since I did not get a scholarship to cover my accommodation and even though the tuition fees were very low, I knew I could not afford living in two different countries over two years while attending courses full time.
- What do you value most, work experience or titles on paper? To be honest, I value both and that is why I chose to pursue further education online. After being in the workforce myself, I realized that there is no better way for learning than by doing. In a real job you get exposed to new situations every day and that is extremely important for growing both as a professional and a person. That is why in the end I did not want to give up my full time job.
- What exactly do you want to get out of the degree? If you value only getting the title, then most likely you can opt for a remote or online course. On the other side, if you want to make connections and expand your network, then a full-time program would rather give you these benefits.
Overall, I think it’s very important to weigh the pros and cons for any decision you will make. I hope this post was useful and hopefully help you to make or support your decision.
Thank you for reading and please let me know your thoughts on this. Is there anything else that you would consider when thinking about pursuing a higher education degree?