Reasons You Should Go Back to School
Whatever your story, if you're unsatisfied in life you may want to consider returning to education. Here are just some of the reasons you should go back to school.
Once upon a time, a high school degree or equivalent was enough to provide you with a stable, comfortable life. But now, it seems almost impossible to get a job without a bachelor's degree at the very least—and even that might not get you to where you want to be.
Wherever you left off in your education, there may be very good reasons you should go back to school. There are also many different ways to continue or supplement your education, to get you where you want to be in life.
To Improve Your Job Options
It's no secret that having a college education or higher improves your likelihood of landing a steady, well-paying job. In today's competitive job market, just being qualified often isn't enough—even if you have the skill set or knowledge to succeed in a job, employers will usually prefer to choose candidates who have a degree—even if that degree is in a different field.
If you've been through the painstaking job search process, which I'm guessing most of us have, you know what I mean. With the exception of manual labor and entry-level service jobs, nearly every full-time job advertisement lists "bachelor's degree or higher" as a requirement. And while sometimes taking a risk and demonstrating your qualifications even without a degree pays off, it's more often that your application will be quickly passed up in favor of a candidate with more schooling.
Should you go to university? Well, higher education means more specialized education, giving you many more positive things to list on your résumé and increasing the range of jobs you may be able to get.
To Advance Your Career
Even if you do manage to land a good job right out of high school, there are still reasons you should go back to school. Without a degree, companies will generally be much less likely to offer you room for advancement, leaving you stuck in the same lower-level positions for years—even though you might be just as qualified at the job, if not more, as a newly hired college graduate.
Moving up within your company might also require you to learn new skills or gain new knowledge. And returning to school does not mean you have to leave your job—many people work full-time and take night classes, an investment that generally pays off in opportunities for advancement and higher salaries. Plus, college graduates have much higher job security, as well as more options should your current job fall through.
To Earn More Money
Of course, money doesn't guarantee you happiness, but that doesn't mean it's not one of the many reasons you should go back to school. A study done by the Pew Research Center indicates that college graduates on average make about $17,500 more per year than high school graduates. There are a lot of factors that go into this number, including job opportunities, types, and likelihood of advancement, but the fact remains that having a college degree or higher gives you a major financial edge in the world.
So while it might seem financial prudent not to go into higher education—it can be pretty expensive, no lies there—it will likely still benefit you in the long run. Plus, while many Universities and private colleges cost an arm and a leg, there are many options for continuing your education that don't, including community college, online classes, and scholarships.
To Switch Jobs
Some people seem to know what they want to do with their lives the day their born. You hear people say "oh, I knew I was going to be a doctor when I was four years old and my dad gave me a toy stethoscope." But frankly, most of us spend decades figuring out our strengths and interests, if not longer. And in the current market, certain jobs are just more desirable than others.
So if you're finding yourself unsatisfied in your current field, whatever the reason, it might be time to go back to school. Even if you've already earned a bachelor's degree or higher in one field, it's never too late to expand your education, whether through higher education like MA or PhD programs, post-baccalaureate opportunities, or online courses. And those changes can get you on a path to your dream job, where you can pursue your interests every day. Your satisfaction with your life and your career is a very good reason you should go back to school.
To Improve Your Job Performance
As human beings, there's room for improvement in all of us. And if you're happy with what you do, and enjoy the place you work, then you want to be the best employee you possibly can be. Sometimes, that just means working hard and developing the right skills on your own, as there are many ways to improve your job performance. But it may also be another reason you should go back to school.
Higher education offers so many opportunities to help you learn and develop new skills, which can improve your job performance—and just maybe, earn you that raise or promotion you've been looking for. "Going back to school" doesn't mean you have to go live in a dorm and devote yourself to being a full-time student—adult learners have many options, and you may want to consider taking just one or two specialized courses to improve your skills or earn a beneficial certification.
To Prove Your Competence
Many people return to school, at least in part, in order to prove something to themselves and to others. Even though you may be competent in your job, skilled, and intelligent, it's not uncommon to have self-doubt and begin to compare yourself to others in light of your educational background.
Being overly concerned with how you appear or sound, rather than confident in who you are and how capable you are, is a dangerous and pointless thing. However, these feelings can provide good reasons you should go back to school, in order to increase your confidence and earn a powerful sense of pride at your accomplishments, untempered by insecurities about your background.
To Pursue an Interest
As adults, life gets busy, and life gets focused. Often, this means that we devote all of our time to just a few things—work, family, sleep—and let our hobbies and interests fall by the wayside.
But many schools and programs offer courses in everything from art to botany to history and beyond, so you can always have the opportunity to pursue your interests and engage with the things that fascinate you—even if they're not part of your daily routine. While work and family are very important, education isn't just about establishing those basic things—it can also enable you to live a more fulfilling and enjoyable life, by providing opportunities to learn and improve yourself.
There's a famous saying you've probably heard, to the effect of "it's not what you know, it's who you know." And while skills and qualifications are certainly important in the job market, there is certainly some truth to this. The importance of networking, both on social media sites like LinkedIn and in person, can't be understated. By meeting people in your industry—or desired industry—you can not only learn a lot about the field and how to succeed in it, but form connections with people who can help you find and get those jobs. These connections can make or break your career.
Probably the easiest way to successfully network is through higher education. In an academic setting, you're surrounded by many of the best minds in your field, and have an easy way to get to know them and form the kinds of professional relationships that you need to get your career heading the right direction.
To Set an Example
Many adult learners juggle their schooling with work and family. For a lot of these people, returning to school is as much for their children as it is for them—while improving the odds of providing a stable life for the family, higher education also sets an example for children to look up to and follow. It might be difficult to convince a teenager to go to college if you never did yourself, and teenagers will be the first ones to call you out on that kind of hypocrisy. But when kids see their parents succeed in higher education, they often feel great pride and respect, and are more likely themselves to want to pursue a quality education after high school. It can also help encourage kids to work hard in primary and secondary school, as they have a role model to look up to and to learn work ethic and study techniques from.
To Improve Yourself
A lot of people think of education as a painful, expensive, necessary process designed to get you a piece of paper that says "hey, I'm competent." Then you can get a job.
But education is incredibly valuable, regardless of the usefulness of the degree itself. One of the most truthful reasons you should go back to school is simply because education will help you grow. No matter your age or status in life, we can all improve. By returning to the classroom, in whatever capacity you can, you ensure that you don't stagnate—that you stay constantly learning and growing, which in turn ensures that you're engaged, thinking, and actively participating in life. The things you learn will be valuable. But the act of learning itself will also be valuable, the act of challenging yourself and keeping up your critical thinking skills—skills that can apply to and improve every area of life.
To Have Access to School Resources
Many people don't realize the incredible range of resources that students gain access to. Depending on the school of course, you may have free, 24-hour libraries with state-of-the-art computers, printers, and research materials. And those research materials aren't just the books in the school library—as a student, you can also access massive databases of scholarly work and read journals and articles you would otherwise have to pay quite a lot to view.
You also have contacts with people who can help tutor you, assist you in your writing, and provide general guidance through your education. You have access to gyms, cafeterias, academic buildings, tools to improve your writing and editing, and a huge range of campus services—often, students are even able to get very cheap health insurance and schools have their own health centers with drop-in availability and a range of common services.
To Open Up More Life Opportunities
Even if you're satisfied with your life, you love your career, and you're headed towards great success, you may still want to consider continuing your education in certain fields. Particularly, the study of languages and cultures.
By taking just a few courses, even night courses after work or online courses on your own time, you can open up a whole new world—literally. Knowing the language and culture of a place can make all the difference in your traveling experience, and being able to navigate a foreign country is an invaluable skill, for anyone. So take a Spanish class and visit the beautiful Andalusia, or learn Chinese and take in all the bustling culture of Hong Kong.
Whatever your situation in life, there are great reasons to return to school in some capacity.