Back To The Books: Is Obtaining An Advanced Degree Right For You?

Back To The Books: Is Obtaining An Advanced Degree Right For You?

With the summer approaching its end and fall around the corner, many children and adults alike are gearing up and prepping for the upcoming school year. Some older and established adults are even looking forward to the new school year, as they decide whether or not to go back to school to obtain an advanced degree in their field. According to CNBC, over 40% of all college and graduate students were 25 years old and older in 2009 and that percentage is expected to rise by 3% in the next 10 years.

With the influx of established professionals filling the classroom to obtain an advanced or second degree, the choice of going back to school seems like a no-brainer, but shouldn’t be taken lightly. The decision to go back to school should be one that is weighed heavily from a personal and professional standpoint to explore all possible obstacles and outcomes.

If you are in the process of deciding whether an advanced degree is right for you, check out some of the pros and cons of going back to the books and advancing your education through a graduate program.

PROS

1.    Career Growth and Education
Obtaining an advanced degree outside of your Bachelor’s could afford you the education needed for career growth. Depending on your field or industry, dedicating your time and finances into getting an advanced degree might do more good than harm. According to Monster, the fields of Electrical Engineering, Economics, Management Information Systems and more offer the best bang for your buck when obtaining an Master’s degree or higher in the study.

2.    Resume Builder
If you’re looking for a great resume builder, an advanced degree could be a great building block for you. It has the potential to get you ahead of the pile of resumes for your next job opportunity or company just by displaying the level of dedication and knowledge in your field.

3.    Career Advancement
Advancing in your career can be as simple as advancing your degree and knowledge in a Masters or Doctorate program. Gaining another degree in your field could position you for company advancement in the long haul. This could be especially for millennials in the workforce looking to move up in the company chain: the income of millennials that have obtained a Master’s have risen 23% in the past 30 years, in comparison to the 13% increase of those with only a Bachelor’s, according to Pew Research.

4.    Changing Career Paths
Thinking of a new career path completely opposite of your own? Going back to school for an advanced degree in another field or industry can help open up the doors of opportunity for you. Not only will you be able to connect with professionals that are currently in the industry of your choice, but graduate professors will also become a great guide into the next direction of your career, with industry contacts and experience of their own. Attending graduate school can also ease you into the world of networking without all of the intimidation of attending work-related events and connecting on LinkedIn only.

CONS

1.    The Time Commitment
When deciding if going back to school is right for you, make sure to evaluate the time commitment it takes to enter and complete a program. Graduate school programs can be very vigorous and time-consuming, and demand more study time then most undergraduate programs. A full-time commitment will most likely stretch your time at work and at home, so choose your program – and the timing of going back to school – wisely.

2.    Return on Investment
Would you be getting the most out of your second degree professionally? This question is something to fully analyze and answer for yourself as you consider attending school again. With the financial and time constraints attending graduate school can have, you want to make sure your investment yields you the best opportunities possible. Evaluate the field or industry you are in or looking to go into. Will an advanced degree really make the difference between career growth and stagnation in my field? Are there other methods or ways to position myself for career advancement, such as internships, networking or a certificate/training program? These are all great questions to evaluate the true potential an advanced degree holds for you.

3.    The Financial Obligation
Going to graduate school is not the easiest or cheapest option: the average cost of tuition of graduate programs rose 6% per year from 2000 to 2014, according to The Wall Street Journal, with the annual graduate program tuition totaling $30,000, Peterson’s report. Before deciding if graduate school is the right option for you, make sure the financial commitment won’t be a major hurdle.


About the author

Blair Bedford

Proudly from Baltimore, Maryland, Blair Bedford is currently working in the entertainment television industry in Washington D.C.  A 2011 Mass Communications and Journalism graduate from Frostburg State University in Maryland, Blair is well-versed in the media industry, holding positions in print, online and television mediums for the past six years, including working for Centric TV in New York, Baltimore’s CityPaper, Gannett Co. Inc., and Madame Noire online publication as a freelance writer.

Blair takes pride in always being productive and active, participating in community service projects, mentoring, freelancing and contributing to her former university, serving as an Alumni Association board member. As she paves her path and career in television media, her efforts are in order to help others achieve their goals as well.

Blair Bedford is a television media professional and freelance writer/contributor based out of Washington D.C.  Follow Blair on Twitter @BlairNoProject.

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