Should You Go Back To School?

~ By Brian Jenkins, Work Coach Cafe Contributor ~

If you’ve been laid-off or stuck in a stale job, going back to school sure looks tempting. For some people, the current harsh economic climate practically offers no acceptable options – they seek to expand their horizon by going back to school. For some individuals the notion of more education and changing careers is exhilarating and daunting.

Should you pursue your dream job or play it safe and get an education that’s tailored for an in demand job? It’s not an easy decision to make. How about preparing for an interesting, in demand, good paying career that makes you feel useful?

Shorten the Education Process

Many legitimate colleges give college credit for life and work experiences. My advice is be concerned about colleges that provide college credit with little or no documentation. They’re the diploma mills you’ve heard about. Many prospective employers will question the legitimacy of these credits. Make sure the school’s accrediting agency is recognized by the U.S Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education.

Many employers seek candidates with a combination of extensive experience and credentials – in a tough job market they often find them. In a competitive job market changing careers isn’t a piece of cake so do your homework before plunking down tens of thousands of dollars for a college degree.

The Other Side of the Coin

In general most experts believe the more education you have the more likely you’ll land a good job. I have to say, that statement reminds me of a controversial article I read a few years ago at the notable
Kiplinger website. The author Marty Nemko said this about going to college: “Rather than learning what you need, you’re buried under mountains of information, most of which you’ll never use, and the rest of which you’ll probably long have forgotten — or it will have become obsolete by the time you need it”. If you went to college do you agree with his strong statement? It’s a surprising comment from a man who has a Ph.D., specializing in educational evaluation from the University of California at Berkeley.

Marty suggests people attend You U. The curriculum includes:

  • Have a mentor
  • Attend conferences
  • Read important articles and books
  • Do apprenticeships alongside a master practitioner

Nemko suggests instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on a college degree, how about offering to work for free for a notable company in exchange for mentoring? You pay no tuition, you get on-target learning and you enhance your resume.

Graduate Certificate

You may think you need an expensive, time-consuming MBA but actually you may be better off getting a relatively inexpensive/short-program graduate certificate. A graduate certificate shows prospective employers you’ve acquired a specific expertise – find one that’s in demand.

Yes, we have a tough economic climate – do you feel a career change is being forced upon you or is it your personal choice? What’s your advice for people considering going back to school? If you went back to school let us know if it led to a new job.


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.

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