Getting a Graduate Degree

The reasons for going back to school aren’t necessarily monetary. While a master’s degree will most likely earn you a better position and higher salary in the long term, you may have to settle for the satisfaction of expanding your knowledge and skills — at least in the short term.

Going Back to School

Some of the more common reasons people return to school for advanced degrees are because they:

  • Postponed choosing a career or job after college graduation.
  • Failed to get a job following college graduation.
  • Aspire to broaden their expertise and advance their careers.
  • Are seeking a career change.
  • Wanted to return to school later in life in order to expand their knowledge and make good use of time.

Grad Enrollment Slows

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that graduate enrollment rose from 1.3 million in 1983 to 1.7 million in 1996 — a 28 percent increase. It’s only projected to hit 1.75 million by 2008, an increase of just two percent.

Graduate enrollment is slowing (one reason being that some employers prefer employees with technology experience, rather than another degree). The NCES found that of people age 25 and older, only 10 percent went beyond just a bachelor’s degree.

Advance Your Career

If you are employed and happy in your field, and you think earning a higher degree may advance your career, it’s wise to discuss it with someone at work who can advise you. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement, but you need to verify your eligibility requirements. Often, companies only pay for classes specific to your job.

Some companies may want to limit your schedule to certain classes, rather than pay tuition reimbursement expenses for earning a full degree. With job functions becoming so specific, it’s often uneconomical for companies to pay for an employee’s tuition costs when a degree may not enhance their job performance.

More Money?

Of course, the subject matter often determines whether or not it’s worth the extra education (M.B.A.s have become more popular lately, especially for those in management positions in technical fields). Other factors may include whether or not your company will pay for it, your stage in life and how helpful it will be for you in the long run.

If money is a large factor in your decision, the NCES found that median annual income increases by nearly nine percent for people with a master’s versus a bachelor’s degree.

Look at the Big Picture

Whatever your reason for returning to school, it’s always nice to take a step out of the working world where people often get caught up in their daily routines. In academia, everyone strives to learn new things and better him or herself. You may leave school with more than just a degree.

For a list of graduate school rankings, visit Online U.S. News

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