Debating whether or not to go back to school can be a complicated, messy mess. First of all, the temptation to do so is understandable. It seems like everyone these days is going for a post-graduate degree, whether that’s a Master’s, MBA, or the like.
While it’s true more millennials than ever (37 percent) are earning bachelors degrees, little more than 9 percent of the population has a master’s degree. If you’re a person of color, the numbers are even smaller.
Still, going back to school for a secondary degree these days might seem like a good idea if you’re trying to stand out in the sea of applicants. Or, maybe it’s simply been a lifelong dream of yours (and, let’s not kid ourselves, your parents’). Whether it’s worthwhile to earn a post-graduate degree, though, largely depends on your particular situation.
Consider: What kind of career are you pursuing? What industry do you wish to work in? Does the role you desire require it? Does going back to school increase your earnings potential? Can you afford it?
The number of professions requiring a post-graduate degree for employment remains small (think: STEM fields or medicine). Getting a master’s degree can seem fruitless unless you plan on working in a university setting. At least, that’s one take. The other take? Gaining a master’s sets me up for managerial positions and a higher income.
It’s also true that there’s certainly the potential for higher income earnings over your lifetime if you have a master’s degree. Yet, how much more you’re earning by going back to school ultimately boils down to the industry you’re in. Oh, and let’s not forget to factor in how much everything will inevitably cost. There are some financial aid packages available for post-graduate study. But chances are, you’ll be expected to foot a big chunk of the expenses yourself, unless you’re lucky enough to get accepted to a paid program (because, yes, that IS a thing!).
So, what do you do? Decisions like this are never easy, but we’ve simplified the process with our handy flow chart. Try it out and make sure you’re asking yourself the right questions before you start the application process all over again.