Thinking Of Returning To School?


If you are one of the many people who are finding that landing a job is difficult at present, one of the things you might be thinking of is returning to school to further your education. This could be just the remedy you need or a colossal waste of your time and money, resulting in kick-starting your career or leaving you saddled with debt and still with no job. Yikes! Isn’t that your biggest fear!?

Debt; four simple letters which together could find you with a poor credit rating, affecting your future ability to buy a car, a house, even land a job with some organizations. Just the thought of going to school and investing a year or more of your precious time only to have the possibility you could emerge still in the same situation with no job prospects? Why it’s enough to drive a person crazy!

Hang on a minute. Let’s look at this rationally and objectively. Take a breath; a deep one that fills your lungs and then exhale. Do it again. Better? Okay, let’s begin. Oh and I should add that I have no vested interests in any educational institution.

Supposing that as our premise, you are finding it difficult to get job interviews and when you do, you’re not getting job offers. It could be that there are too many people with the same qualifications as you, and in addition, some of your competition have added education. The decision to head on back to school and may be exactly the right decision if employers in your field place a high value on extra education, or you learn they view your education as out-of-date.

Could be that your degree from 1981 is now of questionable value, or in a field like technology where advances come often and quickly, you’re losing out to new grads. If you have been able to narrow down what course or training you’re lacking that is holding you back, then returning to the classroom to get it is wisdom my friend. Don’t even read the rest of this article; get up and go register now!

Another solid reason for more education is if you have come to a point in your life where a completely different career is in order. You’ve grown and with aging you’ve found you have new interests; interests which you’d like to pursue as a career and your current education doesn’t qualify you to compete. Same advice, quit reading and contact the College or University and get yourself registered.

There is another kind of situation you might be in which could also have you considering the classroom as an option. You might not be at all sure what kind of work you’d like to do. Returning to school would cocoon you from the world of work for 2-3 years while you pursued a degree or diploma.  Couldn’t hurt at any rate to add some letters to the end of your name, and hopefully you’d figure it out in that time.

Well it’s not up to me to say one way or the other but generally I’d say all education is worthwhile. It will add to your resume and maybe some time in a placement applying those skills could indeed spark a real interest you then pursue and life all works out beautifully. That money you owe when you graduate isn’t debt at all but rather an investment you’ve made in your mind and your future. Well done!

However, that time you spend in a classroom could actually prove harmful. If you graduate and then don’t feel inspired to look for work doing what you went back to school to learn, that money you spent might actually just be plain old debt; with you no closer to knowing what to do with your working life.

A good idea perhaps is before investing your time and money in school, interview some people doing the work you might be doing upon graduation. Pick their brain, find out what they really do and ask yourself if you’d be happy in a similar position? Ask the employers you’d be asking to hire you when you graduate if they prefer graduates from certain schools or programs. Not much point happily going to school somewhere only to graduate and then find employers don’t value what you received or the institution you got it from isn’t recognized.

One thing is for sure; don’t return to school just to hide from work. If you’re not sure what to do, spend some time working in several jobs. Invest a year – maybe two or three actually – doing a number of jobs finding out what you like and what you don’t.  You choose what goes on a future resume anyhow, so don’t fret about job hopping; you’re on a mission of discovery.

Going back to school is a wise decision which will improve the way you think, make you more competitively employable and give you an edge. However, upgrading your education and then finding out you’re eventually working in a job you could have got three years ago without your new degree might be a waste of time or just part of your education in the game of Life. Depends on your attitude and how you view things.

Best advice if you’re on the fence? Make a decision either way, and make it NOW; the stress of not deciding isn’t helpful. You’re on the clock.

Adding Debt When Unemployed


Recently I’ve had several conversations with unemployed people, each of whom are trying to find some direction in their lives when it comes to their future employment. Now the people I’m speaking of are all on social assistance with few financial resources if any, and most are already in debt with credit cards or existing school loans.

In recognizing that just as each person presents with their own unique unemployment dilemma, I recognize the logic then that the solution for each person must also be arrived at in recognition of their own circumstances. No one option therefore is necessarily the right one for all of them.

My approach in each situation, has been to present myself as a sounding board, then take what I hear and objectively present some options before them on paper, talking of the pros and cons of each, and then letting those choices sink in. Once the two of us have the options before us, I frame some questions for the person which are designed to elicit an emotional or rational response, which might prove valuable in either removing an item or strengthening the likelihood of one option being selected as the preferred one.

Now the thing about identifying pros and cons when faced with any tough choice, is that even when you’ve exhausted all your pros and cons that come to mind, you may still find that what would appear to be the ‘right’ choice doesn’t sit well with your emotional compass. This state is usually reflected when the client is heard to say things like, “Well I know I should choose option 3, but I still don’t know…it doesn’t feel right.”

This inner conflict voiced by the client could be explained a couple of ways. First, it may not feel right because for that client, the choice is the wrong one even though the pros and cons on paper state otherwise. The client’s uneasiness is a warning that to choose that option would later prove to be a poor choice made when looking back. The other possibility is that it doesn’t feel right because that choice is actually the smart one to make and it’s the first of many good choices to come when the client has had a history of making poor choices. It doesn’t feel right to them because their internal decision-making processes up to this point have largely been poorly thought out, and for the first time they are going at decision-making a better way.

One example to help explain this is a situation where a client is already carrying a $35,000.00 debt. It worries them, the stress of that debt hangs over them and yet being on social assistance, there is no way they are in a position to pay down any part of that loan. Now, being unemployed, one option is to return to school and add a university degree to their college diploma. Why take on another $15,000.00 and up the total to $50,000.00 in debt? Wouldn’t that be just more stress, and more to pay back eventually?

To answer this question correctly, you’d need more information, and whether this option is the right one or not for this one client, you’d have to know their circumstances such as the job they eventually want and the barriers to employment they’ve been facing. In this case, the client has a diploma but the job they want keeps requiring a university degree in all the job postings. The combination of both a degree and a diploma in the same field would conceivably give her a unique advantage over others with only the degree.

In speaking with another client also with accumulated debt from previous school loans, they too are considering a return to school to upgrade their education. However, in this situation, the client voiced the opinion that going back to school was in their mind a gamble that when they graduated, there would be a change in the job market and more employment opportunities would exist. This opinion isn’t based on anything more than a hope and a  hunch; a,  ‘things can’t get any worse’ statement. Going to school is more of an evasion  from the real world.

One way to look at things is that investing in yourself by improving your education is the best thing you could actually invest in. You’ll carry that knowledge and those increased skills and general awareness your entire life, giving you more perspective than you currently have. And whether you owe $35,000.00 or $50,000.00, your payments can be identical, you just pay one longer than the other. Debt is debt in other words. Homeowners would see $50,000.00 as a drop in the bucket compared to the hundreds of thousands they’d invest in a new home. So debt becomes relative.

Another option could be to pass on returning to higher education and change their career goals to something they are currently qualified to do, which may or may not make them happiest, or put them in a position to pay off their existing debts anytime soon.

In all cases, I presented 6 options to move forward, and in zero cases did I force them to choose their decision in front of me or make it for them. That decision is theirs to make, with or without further consultation from me. Once decided, direction is laid, action plans can be developed, and forward movement initiated.

Taking on more debt may or may not be the right move.