When you graduated from high school, you might have envisioned enrolling in a university and gaining access to a more lucrative career – but your circumstances at the time prevented you from seeking a college degree. Or, perhaps you did go to college and earned your bachelorâ€™s, but an intentional pause between undergrad and graduate school has developed into a long-term lifestyle change.
It would help if you didnâ€™t let your education aspirations die out. At some point, your life will let you return to school to gain the advanced degree, knowledge, and skill that you crave – and that point could be right now. Hereâ€™s why.
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You Might Have More Time and Energy
For many Americans, the path through higher education begins at 18 with college and continues around 21 or 22 with graduate school. However, this timeline doesnâ€™t align perfectly with everyoneâ€™s life experiences. Many young adults become responsible for financially supporting their families and cannot devote any time or energy to their education. Other young adults lack the social or emotional foundation to pursue an advanced degree.
It can take years to gain the right lifestyle for pursuing higher education. If you have found that you currently have greater stability in your living situation, especially when it comes to your schedule, energy levels, and finances, it might be the right time to consider returning to school. Though the pandemic has its downsides, flexibility regarding the personal schedule and more energy for non-work activities are definite advantages that might signal your opportunity to get an advanced degree.
There Are More Online Ed Opportunities Than Ever Before
Though online education has been developing for several decades, the pandemic has driven colleges and universities to expand their online offerings to reach students compelled to stay home by social distancing guidelines. As a result, there are more online degree programs available to students than ever before. If you have been holding off on returning to school due to the inconvenience of attending classes on a physical campus, you might look into available online master’s programs, which should now include options that suit your career path and academic interests.
Many People Are Shifting Their Careers
While the stock market might not show much disruption over the past 12 months, you should recognize that the economy remains in a state of serious flux. Some people have been able to continue work as usual; others have been forced into furloughs; still, others have been fully laid off permanently, and a final group is seeing their jobs and careers entirely disappear, as the pandemic has shifted economic needs, wants and expectations so drastically.
Even if you arenâ€™t experiencing career instability, it isnâ€™t a bad time to take advantage of the shifting job market. If you can improve your credentials with an advanced degree while others are competing for limited entry-level positions, you can position yourself well for the future.
Some Signs You Are Ready to Return to School
While economic circumstances might be favorable to return to school, your personal situation is most important for determining whether you will see success or failure in your academic endeavors. Here are some signs that you should enroll in a degree program soon:
You are motivated to get your degree.
Motivation will help you attend lectures, engage with learning resources, complete coursework, network with classmates, and generally get the most from your degree program, so feeling motivated is important in signaling that it is time to go back to school.
You have the right financial and social support.
A college education is never free. Even if you have scholarships, grants, or other tuition assistance, you will need to pay for various digital devices, internet connections, books, online labs, and more. Plus, your time will be at a premium, reducing your capacity to work or spend time with family and friends. It is much more difficult to succeed in a degree program if you lack the support of loved ones, so you should look for encouragement from those around you before you launch back into school.
You are able to manage your stress.
Gaining knowledge and new skills is difficult, and the work required can be a significant stress source. It is a good idea to find a reliable stress relief strategy before enrolling in a degree program to develop a stress disorder that causes you to drop out.
You have set appropriate education and career goals.
You should have a good reason to return to school, and you should set your expectations for your degree program appropriately. If you have a good sense of how your advanced degree will impact your career, you are better prepared to make the right choices throughout your education and graduate to find greater success afterward.
Everyone should be able to gain the education they need to thrive – but for some, education comes later in life. If you stand to benefit by returning to school and financially, socially, and emotionally prepared for the experience, now is a great time to get back into academics and improve your career potential.