Thinking Through Going Back to School: What’s Your Motivation?

“Should I go back to school?” It’s something that people ask often, but it isn’t a decision that can be taken lightly. School requires sizeable investments of time, money and brainpower. It changes your day-to-day routine, and can impact your home and work life. Yet, despite the challenges, returning to school can yield great rewards. Dreaming of a higher salary? Want a chance to live out your passion? Do you need to learn new skills to keep up with your field? These are just some of the reasons why people turn to higher education.

Based on some common considerations and questions we’ve fielded through years of working with students, we’ve developed this four-part series aimed at helping you think through some of the fundamental elements involved with going back to school. At the end of the series, we’ll provide you with a downloadable worksheet you can use to walk through decisions about your education.

The First Step: Identifying Your Objectives
Before you make up your mind about where to apply or what to study, it’s crucial to take a step back and evaluate your reasons for wanting to return to school. Once you identify what you want to accomplish, you can more effectively choose a program of study and lay out a plan for your educational pursuits.

Start off by asking yourself these questions:
“What do I hope to gain from returning to school?”
“What do I want the result of my studies to be?”

Everyone has different responses, and you may have multiple answers. The important thing is that you make yourself aware of your priorities.

Here are some of the most common reasons people go back to school. Which statements most accurately represent your goals? Choose the statements that are most relevant to you.

  • I want to make more money
  • I want to enter a field with more job opportunities/higher demand
  • I want a job that will give me upward mobility
  • I want a promotion/to move up in my current career
  • I need a new job because I lost my old one
  • I need to learn new skills to stay marketable
  • I want to learn more about an area of interest
  • I want a more interesting career
  • I want to do work that will make me happy
  • I want to turn my passion into a career
  • I want to make a difference in the world
  • I want more mental stimulation
  • I want to complete a degree I already started
  • I want to go to school for personal fulfillment

What objectives resonate with you the most, and why? Did you think of some other goals that aren’t listed here? Let us know in the comments below.

Continue reading: Thinking Through Going Back to School - Part 2 »

Discussion