career planning personal fulfillment

Making the Decision to Go Back to School

Whether you are coming back to finish your bachelor’s degree, going for a master’s degree, or maybe even considering getting a Ph.D. – there are several factors affect your decision.

I’d like to use this post to glean some information from current and past students about why, when, how you decided to come back to school – both for our improvement as a university, and as advice for those contemplating the thought of advancing their education.

To get the ball rolling I asked some of my colleagues who’ve gone back for a higher degree about their experience. Their answers, while scattered across the board, are really relatable. I’m sure you’ll find yourself thinking, yep, that was me too. As you’re scanning through our answers, think of yours, and share them at the end!

What made you go back?
“Working in an academic environment I felt like an advanced degree would help me be seen as a colleague.”

“When I evaluated my career and personal goals I was finding that they were unattainable without the backing of an advanced degree.”

What kept you from going back until then?
“Marriage, busy work life, new baby, family obligations, etc. This list goes on and on. One day I decided that there was always going to be a reason not to continue my studies but I then realized that the reasons why I don’t have time to study are the same reasons why I should make the time.”

“I really enjoyed my first two jobs — the money was good, but the quality of work was even better. When I took my third job, I saw a dead end in my career development, so it prompted me to look into grad schools.”

How did you know it was the right time?
“I have very clear career goals and because of that I needed to get started and finish my degree as soon as possible.”

“I decided early on in my college career that I would like earn a graduate degree because my dream at that point was to be a college professor. So, I applied to graduate schools my senior year of college and was accepted, but between applying and being accepted, real life made me change my mind about priorities. Basically, I fell in love and didn’t want to give up my soul mate to pursue graduate school and an academic career. So, I got a job, and a couple years later decided again to go to graduate school, but this time with a more professional advancement focus. I wanted to get the degree so that I could excel in my field, but understood that I would not be getting ahead just because I had a piece of paper. It would be the knowledge that I gained in the program and how I took that information and applied it to my work every day that would set me apart for others and get me where I wanted to go with my career.”

How has it benefited you?
“A better way of answering this question is what would my life be like if I didn’t do it. I’ve simply become a better person and more knowledgeable in my field.”

“It hasn’t been very long but already I have been able to advance my career goals by teaching a course.”

“It has benefited me immensely because I learned even more about working hard, balancing priorities, and using and applying information to solve problems effectively and strategically. It gave me the background I needed to feel confident in seeking out new opportunities and challenges. My master’s also gave me immediate skills that I used in my work to demonstrate to my supervisors that I was an exceptional employee committed to using my knowledge to grow and build the organization.”

“I’ve rounded out my job skills to include academic research. I’ve also had a chance to sample the academic life and meet new people.”

What were some of your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
“Staying motivated – there were semesters that I wasn’t sure I was ever going to complete the degree. And finding time for school, work, and family. I have a wonderful support system that I depended on heavily.”

“Working full time, having time for family and friends, and pursuing a degree was quite an undertaking; however, with discipline and organization it is a completely attainable goal for any lifestyle.”

“Cost was the biggest challenge. I didn’t want to go deep into debt for a degree. Getting accepted to a funded program and having a supportive wife have been critical.”

Now that we’ve shared a little, it’s your turn. This blog is about you more than us, and we’d love to hear your story here in the comments section. Your insight is more valuable to prospective students than anything we could come up with – especially when it comes to the online aspect of the degrees you’re pursuing now.

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