So the job search has become a long, frustrating experience of being rejected over and over. You’re over-qualified for some jobs, told you’re not who they are looking for others, and then there’s the ones where they say you were great but they decided to go with someone else. In the end, it’s all the same – no job. So now you’re so frustrated with the entire job search process, you’re thinking of going back to school instead.
A return to school would give you current academic credentials; a big upgrade on your mid-1980’s degree or diploma. Surely some current education and your life experience would be a winning combination! Well the short answer is yes. However, it’s important to consider a number of factors when you’re weighing the option of upgrading your education.
First of all, are you going back to upgrade your education in the field you’ve worked in all along or are you venturing into another field altogether? If it’s something new to you, think now – before you pay any tuition, if and how what you’ve done in the past can in any way be leveraged to help strengthen your job interviews after you graduate. So if you graduate with a Police Foundations Degree, how will your 15 years of Engineering work help? Will you be able to draw on transferable skills or will you have a different kind of answer when they ask why you’re taking this U-turn after looking at your work history?
There’s nothing wrong with changing direction in your life. It is a wise and courageous person indeed who isn’t afraid to stop pursuing work they can no longer do or be hired to do, and venture out in some new occupation. It can be invigorating and liberating to learn a new profession and it can fuel you with energy and enthusiasm if you’ve felt stuck in a rut. Pity the poor person who has come to no longer find joy in their line of work but who pursues it because it’s all they know and they feel they can’t risk going back to school and taking on more debt.
Ah yes debt. That’s one way to look at things of course; going back to school and graduating with a degree, diploma or certificate that costs you tens of thousands of dollars. You might be reasoning that while your out of a job now, at least you don’t have the added burden of all that debt on top.
There’s another way of looking at the money part however, and I always encourage people to see any costs associated with returning to school as an investment. An investment in what though? The answer is yourself. And what can you invest in that is of greater importance and benefit than yourself? Whatever you learn in school, you’ll take with you for the rest of your life. Oh sure you won’t recall some specifics, but you’ll emerge changed and better educated. School changes how you view things, and if you’re like many, you’ll use what you learn in school daily. It’s not so much that you apply a formula to a problem, remember some passage in a book or quote some theory. It’s more about how you think with a broader perspective and interact with the world in a different way when you graduate.
Now if you’re going back to learn a trade, I applaud you. People who have experience and recent education in the trades are not only in short supply, you’ll pick up skills you can use not only in your professional life, but your personal one as well perhaps. When you don’t have to call an electrician or auto mechanic for minor repairs, you’ll save money and feel empowered too.
School isn’t for everyone granted. What is? This doesn’t mean however that because you heard from a friend that it didn’t work for them that it won’t work for you. It can be a welcomed change to a frustrating job search to be connected with other people in a classroom who are interested in what is being taught just like you. You’re also likely to find that it isn’t as bad as you first imagined either. You wake up and you’ve got somewhere to be, at a certain time, and it’s motivating you to get into a good routine. You’re likely to apply your earlier work and life experience in the classroom too, and your marks might just be higher than you ever thought possible.
When you do finish school, you’ll emerge with something new and something current to stick on that résumé of yours. You’ll feel confidence like you haven’t in some time too because your education was rather dated prior to school. Now if you did your homework before you even started by asking some questions, you picked a course of education that has an upswing in employment. There are jobs out there and you’ll feel optimistic about your chances.
Oh and should you be deciding to upgrade your current education in your field, how can that do anything but help you? Now you’ve got extensive experience and learning of best practices, latest trends and you’ve got credentials once more. Remember, education is never a bad thing, and the investment you choose to make in yourself will stay with you, unlike a purchase you make in a car that loses its value the second you drive off the lot.