The job market has never been more competitive than it is now. Employers are looking for more specialization, more skills, and more experience. They want employees they can invest in and rely on to grow and adapt to the company’s needs.
Returning to school as an adult no longer carries any stigma and is now a way to show employers that you can learn, adapt, and bring a fresh perspective to the workplace.
If you cannot afford to take time off from work, then there are many basic education courses where you can collect certifications and acquire specialized skills. These courses are specially designed for adult learners with many demands on their time and can be scheduled around your other obligations.
There is no downside to returning to school; it may be stressful for a while but once completed, you will be more employable, worth a higher salary, and likely to find more job stability.
Going back to school after so much time has passed can be a bit of a shock and may require a big change in the way you plan out your schedule. Find out exactly how much of a time commitment you are willing to make by trying out short courses first.
Start with a certification that requires you to dedicate your weekends. Then try out a skill seminar that allows you to assign your study hours. This will help you to begin planning for the actual course you want to do and help clear out any doubts you may have about your ability to follow through.
Carefully Weigh Your Options
Can you afford to return to school full time? Take into account your responsibilities and carefully create a budget plan. You are sure to find a course that suits your needs no matter the size of the money you can invest in your education. Big-name colleges and universities may sound impressive, but as long as you have acquired demonstrable skills in the subject, any employer would be pleased to hire you.
If full-time study is not an option for you then reach out to your manager and see if your company is willing to work with you. Some companies are happy to adjust work hours, scheduling, and even provide benefits to assist you in your quest for higher education. These companies realize that you up-skilling yourself will benefit their business in the long term.
Talk to Others Who Have Taken This Step
Sit down and chat with friends or colleagues who have returned to school. Ask about their experiences and carefully listen to the advice they have for you. This should help you to determine which type of education you want to pursue.
For example, if you chat with a colleague who specialized in their field and you find that their job prospects have not improved, then you know to avoid making the same mistake. Similarly, if someone has switched to a different career but is worse off than before they switched, then you know to plan your exit much more in-depth and with a margin for error.
Reach Out to Educators
Once you have identified some courses you are interested in, email the lecturers and professors who will be teaching the course. They will be able to give you a much clearer idea of course requirements and commitments than admissions staff.
Establishing a cordial relationship with your educators early on can also make a big difference in the quality of your learning experience. Professors are much likely to be lenient with students whose situations they understand. They will be able to offer you secondary resources and advice to help you keep on track and stay focused.
The course you choose is very important. Do you want to become a better prospect for career advances and promotion in your current field? Is the plan to switch to a different field? Do you want to go from an employee to a consultant? Is your goal to become a specialist in one area?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself and have clear answers to as this is how you determine what educational route to take. If you want to make a career switch, then adding on a certification in your current field will not make it easier for you to break into a new job.
Make smart choices, do the research, and ensure that you study something that has the potential to make you more employable. Look at what skills and certifications employers are looking for and read about the most in-demand roles in which industry. This way you can be sure that by the time you graduate, you are still relevant and your new skills are highly desirable to employers.