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Should You Go Back to School Mid-Career?

  • 23rd Feb'23

If you've been working for more than ten years, you might feel you've mastered your craft or are at least quite confident in your abilities. That entails better compensation, a higher position, and greater employment security for certain people. But some people begin toying with the thought of returning to school in the middle of their careers. While ten years into a legal or medical profession is still a very short time on the job, most sectors consider ten years to be a pretty good amount of experience.

Is it a good idea to go back to school?

Not everyone is prepared to switch industries or progress in their careers. Is it a good idea to go back to school for you? Higher education, however, can mean the difference between a failed endeavor and a dream employment for those who are.

How do you decide if you should go back to school?

1. What made you decide to change careers?

Are you dissatisfied with your profession, or have you outgrown your current position? In certain cases, switching to a different role or organization within the same sector will help you get over this unhappiness.

However, a career shift can be just what you need if your current position does not offer any opportunities for professional advancement. Think about things like pay, room for progress, and relevance. Are there any opportunities for you to increase your income in your current position? Do you labor in a sluggish sector with little demand or little innovation? Identify your motives and compare them to the effects of continuing in your current field.


2. Will this help me advance my career or find a new one?

Getting your master's or bachelor's degree can lead to increased lifetime earnings or be the initial step in changing careers. Make sure your field of study applies to the work you want to undertake if you are going back to school to advance your career.


3. Discover your passion

Your passion might not be in the field you've chosen, even if your aspirations are. You might be happy with your director position at a financial institution, but why not switch to a marketing firm right away? Later on, your prior expertise will come in handy, and new educational chances will aid in your preparation for the difficulties associated with moving industries.


4. Check out potential schools

Research universities that offer programs in your chosen field after deciding what you want from your new education. Consider the various approaches, the course material, and the deadlines. Having a student mindset helps at the time of a career pivot.


5. Think about the related cost

Cost is one of the most crucial aspects to consider when deciding whether it makes sense to return to school in the middle of your career. Especially in light of the average total cost of $66,340 for a master's degree and a staggering $114,300 for a Ph.D.

If you're pursuing a bachelor's degree, you can anticipate paying, on average, between $9,000 and $27,000  per year at a public school or between $18,000 and $38,000 per year at a private institution—and that's just the tuition fee. Books and materials might significantly raise the final expense.


6. Do I want to go in person or online?

Both in-person and online learning has advantages. Online degrees generally cost less than their in-person counterparts while providing more flexibility and access to distant colleges and lecturers. You also won't have to worry about moving, and you'll have greater freedom to continue working or being with your family.

However, face-to-face connection with classmates and instructors adds more value to in-person learning.


7. Do you want to go back to school full- or part-time?

If you want to avoid upsetting your current way of life, a part-time schedule may be helpful. In-person and online schools both offer part-time programs. Although a full-time plan could require you to put your current career on hold, you'll probably be able to complete your degree more quickly. Consider what is best in your circumstances.


8. How do I choose a school?

Several factors can impact your decision to enroll in a school, including cost, reputation, program quality, networking possibilities, location, and flexibility.

Note that an online school should be accredited by a regional or national body to maintain a quality standard. While some online programs only offer pre-recorded lectures (known as "asynchronous" classes), others include live classrooms. Some courses are instructed by university professors while others are instructed by instructors who have been contracted by the institution particularly to teach online courses. Programs could include practical projects or strong alumni networks. Consider your goals for an online degree and weigh them against the programs you're considering.


9. Time is money

Time is another crucial factor, not just in terms of how long it will take you to finish your education (and the time it will take away from your other priorities in the process), but also in terms of how long it will take you to see the results of all your hard work. The average retirement age in the United States is 64, with the average person working for about 42 of those years. That means that if you return to school in the middle of your career and enroll full-time, you should have between 17 and 19 years left after you complete your chosen degree to make use of your new level of education.

However, for many people, juggling a full-time job and school is impracticable as it will eventually shorten the amount of time they have to reap the benefits of their further education.



Consider the importance of continuing your education the next time you consider switching careers, climbing the corporate ladder, or expanding a business. Higher education can lead to new opportunities, regardless of when you graduated—a few years or several decades ago.


Shellye is committed to helping people from diverse backgrounds achieve their careers and life aspirations. The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

Shellye Archambeau is determined to help you with all possible strategies to climb the ladder of success. She values your feedback. Do mention them in the comment section below.



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