Recently, several of my friends have decided to go back to school. They aren’t happy at their jobs and are feeling “stuck” and undervalued. When talking with these friends, I can really sympathize with where they’re “at”. A few years ago I was in the same place.
Two years after I finished college I decided to go back to grad school. At the time I was living and working in Boston at a non-profit health care organization as a program coordinator. I really loved my boss and my co-workers, but I was feeling kind of “blah” with my life.
Mid-twenties crisis? Maybe.
I felt like I needed a change and I thought that going back to school would be a good career move. I mean a masters degree gives you more job opportunities and better pay, right? Umm, wrong. So wrong! As Mitch pointed out in his post Can a Master’s Degree Yield a Negative Return?, many degrees don’t actually yield you more money. But they may yield you more debt!
That being said, it wasn’t a surprise to me that I wouldn’t be making the “big bucks” when I finished my masters. I knew what I was “getting myself into” and I chose to get my masters degree in spite of the fact that it wouldn’t yield me a big return. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t do a very good cost benefit analysis when it comes to quitting their jobs and going back to school. Usually by the time they start thinking about going back to school, they’re already miserable at their job and ready to jump at the first school that accepts them.
Here’s what the “I’m going back to school because I hate my job” cycle often looks like:
- I hate my job
- I’m going to go back to school
- Going back to school will give me a more job opportunities (keep rationalizing the decision!)
- Tuition costs how much? (financial constraints are a bummer)
- I’ll just take out more student loans to pay for school and expenses
- Woo hoo, I graduated, now I can look for my dream job
- My new “dream” job isn’t any better than my last job and actually pays less (oh crap)
- I now have more student loan debt (I’m not sure how I’m going to pay it)
- I’m more miserable than I was before and now I have to stay at the job I hate to pay off the student loans
Here’s the solution, are you sitting down? This is a game changer… Don’t go back to school. Get a new job!
Think carefully about why you want to go back to school. If you’re only going back because you hate your job, want to avoid the workforce for another few years, or aren’t sure what career path to follow, maybe you should look for a new job instead. You might just find that you enjoy your new job and don’t really “need” or want to go back to school after all.
I’m not saying going back to school is always a bad idea. More education is never a bad thing as long as you can afford it. If you can’t afford it without student loans, I’d suggest weighing your options carefully and doing your due diligence before you quit your job. A higher degree isn’t always the “answer”.
Hate your job? Want to go back to school for other reasons? Love your job but need another degree to get promoted?
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