Returning To School Too Expensive?


Okay so you’re out of work. You’ve tried looking for a job but you’re over qualified for some and don’t have the credentials for others. It’s so frustrating you’re strongly considering going back to school for 2-3 years and hoping the job market improves when you graduate. But the cost of school and increased debt is scary.

Does the above situation sound familiar? I’m actually not going to advocate one way or the other when it comes to returning to school, but I want to provide you with some food for thought so you can perhaps make a decision that’s right for you.

You know how people go into debt for things like houses and cars? Most of us eventually do these things, and while the debt we incur for a house is pretty high, we look at it like an investment over the long-term as well as a place to live. We hope when we buy that when the time comes to sell, we sell for more than we originally paid. The car on the other hand depreciates in value as soon as we drive it off the dealers lot, and if we sell it at all instead of driving it into the ground, we lose money in the end.

Both the house and the car however are things we have to continue to upgrade and put money into just to keep them running. With the car its oil changes, new tires, batteries etc., and the house means new windows, shingles, lighting, furniture etc. Don’t invest and the car breaks down and the house becomes worth less quickly.

Returning to school is also making an investment however, unlike the car or the house which are external things, the investment is in you. Eventually you’ll replace the car and the home with something else, but your education sticks with you for life. Based on this, returning to school to learn sounds like a great idea – and it is. Aside from better employment opportunities, you’re going to benefit as a person, thinking differently, broadening your perspective on issues, and gaining in knowledge.

As for employment opportunities, employers do value employees who are knowledgable, and if you’ve got recent education in the field you want to work in that’s a huge plus. In fact, going back to school as an adult learner with years of employment behind you and being in a graduating class of young people who went straight to College or University and have no job experience could work out good for you. You’ve just discovered your edge; your unique value. Not only will you have the same diploma or degree as the rest of the graduates, but you’ve got real world work experience to go with that education, and that increases your value to an employer.

But what of the debt you are so anxious about and don’t want to be burdened with? Okay look at it this way for a moment. Like I said earlier you are in debt because you invested in yourself. Every moment of every day you’re a better individual because of what you learned and the knowledge you acquired. That alone is worth the investment. Your overall earning potential is greater having graduated, meaning the jobs you can compete for are hopefully higher paying jobs; jobs that can help you pay back those loans faster.

The downside now. Many people fear that they will go to school for two or three years, and upon graduating, will only be able to get the same kind of job they could go out and get right now without that diploma or degree. So why end up with $15,000 or $20,000 in debt and then feel you’ve wasted those years when you could have been earning minimum wage in a job?

The people who feel this way have usually run into someone they know who graduated and can’t find employment, so they are waiting tables or something similar and are bitter because they have debt and for them things haven’t worked out. Even with people you know well in this situation, you don’t really know however how hard they are really job searching, how they are going about it, whether they are reaching out for professional help and even if they are, do they follow the advice given to them when it involves changing how they are going about their job search.

In other words, just because someone else went back to school and is currently unemployed or working in some field other than what they went back to school for, your personal experience doesn’t have to be the same.

What I do believe is that if you are only putting off school because of the money, give yourself a wake up call and run to school and register. If people waited to have children until they could afford it, the race would have died out years ago. If people waited until they had all the money needed to buy their homes, almost all of us would be homeless. Debt is a way of life in 2015, it’s really about how we handle the debt load and reduce it through the payments we make.

So, thinking about going back to school. Check out job prospects and how many grads work in the field once they’ve completed school. Then make your own choice and make it with no regrets. Life is all about chances!

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2 thoughts on “Returning To School Too Expensive?

  1. Debt may be a way of life for some in 2015, but it’s a rotten way of life. People should be doing their utmost to stay out of debt. The only way going into debt can be justified is if you have a guaranteed job at the end of it. When I was on welfare there were so many recipients going back to school with welfare financing and still not getting jobs that welfare changed the rules for financing. They required a guaranteed job job offer from an employer in writing before recipients could get financing.

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    1. Deb although I respect your right to have your own opinion, I have to disagree with you in the strongest terms. Going into debt and returning to school can be the right decision and you’ll never going to have a guaranteed job when you set out. Life doesn’t hold guarantees like that and I’m thrilled it doesn’t. It would be way too predictable.
      The rules you are quoting involving welfare are out of date and as an Employment Counsellor working in the system I know. Things have changed, and for the better.

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