If you’re thinking about going back to school to continue your education, you’ll need to do some planning first. Pursuing an advanced degree can lead to more lucrative job offers, but you should make sure that you will be able to handle the workload. This is especially true for those who will need to balance having a job with going to school and taking care of a household. There are a few other issues that you should also consider before making your final decision.
1. Figuring Out Finances
Going back to school can be a major expense. Make sure you explore all options when figuring out how you’re going to pay for it. If you make enough money from a full-time job, set aside part of your income to put toward college. Apply for financial aid if you’re eligible for it. Ask the human resources department at your job if the company pays for continuing education for employees. You might need to take out a student loan to cover the cost of tuition. If so, look for one from a reputable company that offers reasonable interest rates.
2. Managing Your Time
If you work full-time or have kids to take care of, you’ll need to come up with a schedule that works for you. Make sure you factor in enough time for doing school assignments and studying for tests. You might need more time for these than you did when you first went to college, especially if you’re taking post-graduate classes that are more complex and challenging. You might also be expected to commit to working in a research lab a certain number of hours each week as part of your program. Write down a list of everything you have to do each day. Don’t forget to include errands you have to run.
3. Setting Up a Support System
Make sure that your family understands how much time you’ll need to devote to school. Set aside time each day to focus strictly on schoolwork. Ask your spouse to watch the kids more so that you can study and complete your assignments uninterrupted. Enlist the help of family members and friends if you won’t have time to take care of everything on your own. They can help out by running errands for you, which will free up some of your time. Having a good support system is especially valuable when you have papers to do, a thesis to write, or exams to study for.
4. Taking Care of Your Brain
If you’ve been out of school for awhile, you’re going to find that studying will take more concentration than it did before. Aside from the effects on your brain from aging, you also have more to deal with than you did when you were younger. You might have a full-time job keeping you busy or a family to raise. To make sure that your brain is functioning at its best, plan on getting plenty of sleep and eating a healthy diet. Following a regular exercise routine will also make it easier for you to focus on your studies.
By taking all of these issues into consideration, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on whether to go back to school now or in the near future. Also keep in mind that you don’t have to take on a full schedule. Attending college on a part-time basis might be a more affordable and more realistic option for you.
Ashley Wilson is a student at an online university and a freelance blogger, who writes about the importance of gaining more education and the career benefits it can have. You can visit the website to learn more about going back to school for an MBA.