Should I Go Back to School?
Written by Megan Cunningham

Friday, September 7th, 2018

After starting a job that introduced me to my passion – a passion that I hadn't studied in my undergraduate degree – I began asking myself if I should go back to school and specialize in a different field. As I'm sure many can relate, it's daunting to think about spending another $20,000+ on schooling without knowing whether employers value education over experience. To come to a decision, I explored these questions:

Will My Job Prospects or Salary Change?

I was considering entering a field that was completely new to my educational background – so, of course, my job prospects would change. Whether you're considering a change of direction like me, or you want to become more qualified in your current field, StatsCan is a great resource to compare education level and salary.

On average, women with a bachelor's degree earn 60% more than women with a high school diploma, and 40% more than women with a college degree. Men with a bachelor's degree earn 38% more than men with a high school diploma, and 19% more than men with a college degree.

The data varies based on the postgraduate degree, but in the case of an MBA, this student saw a 50% raise in his salary. A significant salary jump is enticing, but don't forget to consider the long-term financial implications, anything from loans to opportunity lost, while in school.

Is It Worth the Long-Term Cost?

To answer this question, I want to loop in the financial expertise of Preet Banerjee. In his article, The return on investment of going back to school, Preet dives into the lifestyle considerations and math behind determining if going back to school is worth it for you. If you're interested in seeing a step-by-step calculation, check it out.

What Are the Other Options?

"Going back to school" doesn't have to be defined as re-entering a formal academic setting. There are other ways to learn new skills or further your knowledge in a particular field.

Look into your work policy to see if they provide professional development grants. I recently found out that I have access to $500 for courses or conferences that relate to my job. This is an awesome way to grow your skillset without spending your own money.

Some of the alternatives to a formal academic setting could include:

  • Online courses, allowing you to learn at your own pace
  • Short-term courses such as those offered at the BrainStation in Toronto (accompanied by a certificate of completion)
  • Educational podcasts
  • Guidance from a mentor in your field of choice

Education as an Investment

The decision to go back to school is often a big investment, both financially and mentally. Uprooting your routine and income can be tough, but you might be fine with that if you see it as an investment in your future.


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