Should You Go Back To School To Get Your Master’s Degree?

It seems like a great idea doesn’t it?  You’re having trouble finding a job so you decide, maybe I’ll pause my job search, go back to school, get a Master’s degree and come out and find a job that will pay me more because I now have a shiny new degree.  I hate to burst your bubble but this thinking may not get you where you want to be. 

Before you go back to a college campus to get your Master’s, here’s a few questions you need to ask yourself before getting that degree.

adult blur books close up

Is A Master’s Degree Required For My Career Path?

If you graduated college with a degree in Social Work, you better believe that getting a Master’s Degree is probably a pretty good idea.  However, if you got a degree in business, you may want to pump the breaks.  Depending on your degree, you really need to think about whether or not going back to school is worth your time and money.  A Master’s is not an automatic pass to getting a job and more money.  Many Hiring Managers, especially in the business world are more focused on your actual experience rather than a piece of paper with your diploma.  I know countless people who have had successful business careers without even a COLLEGE degree….crazy right?

When it comes down to hiring, many companies want someone who can hit the ground running once they join the team.  Hiring a 30 year old who is a professional college student with a Master’s isn’t really at the top of the list of what companies are looking for.

woman writing on a whiteboard

Now of course, if you are in a specialized field where a Master’s is required, then get your Master’s.  I’m not knocking higher education (there are plenty of posts for me to do that on this site but I won’t now) but asking yourself if the degree is necessary is probably the most important question.

What Are My Reasons For Wanting The Degree?

If your plan as a college freshman is to get a Bachelor’s and then stay for a few more years to complete a Master’s, then by all means, knock yourself out and enjoy the couple extra years of being in college…just don’t eat too much Dominos because at a certain point your metabolism will stop working.  But if you never intended to stay in school past a Bachelor’s, you really need to reflect on your reasons.

books file on shelf

Finding a job is a struggle, I won’t sugarcoat it.  Especially now while the market is recovering from the pandemic.  This doesn’t mean though that you should just throw in the towel on the job search and enroll back into school.  Unfortunately, you can’t just hide away in college and escape the job world. (I guess technically you could if you had the money to do it).  But delaying dealing with looking for a job by a few years doesn’t help anyone.

If you have a little more noble of a cause and think you’ll be going back to eventually make more money, think again.  Going into debt to try and get a hire paying job is never really a great idea.  There’s too many factors that can cause this plan to fail.  I will say, if you’re going to pay for this in cash, then it might be a different conversation.  But having a Master’s Degree doesn’t mean a company automatically owes you more money.  Theoretically, they should pay you more, but in the real world, in an unstable economy, this isn’t necessarily the case.

If I have talked you out of going to get a Master’s, then congratulations, you saved a ton of money and should be focusing on your job search.

If you read this and still want to go back to school for whatever the reason may be, here are some reasonable ways to go back and make the most of it:

  • Go Back To School; and Have Your Employer Pay For It:  The almost sounds like ..Build A Wall and Have Mexico Pay For It.  I can’t remember who said that, somebody famous…anyway…If you have your heart set on going back for your Master’s and you are still employed, see if your employer has programs where they will offer to pay for you to get higher education.  A lot of companies do actually do this.  There’s no reason to quit your job and go back to school…especially if the company you currently work for can pay for it.  If it means you have to stick with the company for a little while longer, it’s worth the money.
  • Cash Flow, Cash Flow, Cash Flow: No matter how old you are, going into debt for college is never a great option.  I hate to be the bear of bad news too, but a Master’s Program is usually more expensive that an undergraduate program.  If you’re making $40,000 at your current job and are going to go into $150,000 in debt to come out and possibly get paid $70,000, was it really worth it?  I know I threw a bunch of numbers at you there so you can read it again if you need to.  My point is, DON’T GO INTO DEBT TO GET A MASTER’S.  I’m not going to give you some Dave Ramsey ideas and say deliver pizzas or drive for Uber while you’re in school either because it’s pretty hard to cash flow something if you’re only making $1,000 a month doing that stuff.  I’m not trying to be a Financial Advisor, but if you are thinking of going back to school while you’re working, start saving a planning.

There’s no 100% right or wrong answer to this question.  Ultimately it comes down to what you want to do.  But with that being said, you really need to think about whether or not a Master’s is really worth it.  Don’t run from something to go hide at college.  Remember, in many industries, experience is king/queen.  The more experience you can get in your desired field, the better it will be for your career whether or not you have an extra diploma or not.

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