A lot of us could use extra money at the moment. We’re in a pandemic, and even if you’re not struggling to make ends meet, you likely know someone who is and wants to take steps to secure your financial future further. Some people have decided to start a small business or ventured into freelancing to earn extra income during the pandemic. But there’s another way to bump up your pay, and it’s to go back to school and pursue further studies. But, like the other methods for getting additional income, it involves certain risks.
Why are you going back to school?
Oftentimes your reasons for doing something will dictate your ROI. For instance, if you’re doing it to learn more, you may just be wasting your money. There is a myriad of data that’s available to the public at little or no cost. Podcasts, videos, books, and more media are available on the internet for anyone to peruse and learn from. There are also online learning platforms such as Skillshare, Udemy, and Coursera that offer education ranging from beginner’s courses to online postgraduate degrees, often at discounted prices.
A better reason to pursue further studies is if you want a career change. Many adults find themselves stuck in the wrong job, primarily due to a lack of proper career counseling during their primary or secondary education. Further studies could be your first step to being in a profession you’re passionate about or feel more at home in.
The pandemic has sped up the takeover of robots and AI of our jobs. More and more automation systems are working our jobs — cashiers, cleaners, clerks, and even cooks. Experts say that there are two ways to keep the takeover at a manageable level. One way is for automation designers and engineers to create systems that can work with humans instead of those that can displace them. The second is that, on our end, we have a responsibility to reskill and upskill to meet the changing demands of our workplaces.
The World Economic Forum said that the most in-demand jobs of the next few years require a combination of soft and hard skills. Hard skills are those that can easily be quantified when put to the test. These often refer to skills with more technical knowledge and ability behind them. Examples of hard skills include mathematics, machine operation, and proficiency in foreign languages. Soft skills are considered unquantifiable but no less valuable in productivity and collaboration. Examples include communication, creativity, and leadership.
Will it be worth it?
Pursuing further studies is an investment, so ask yourself what your ROI will be.
It depends on what postgraduate degrees you have. Certain degrees, such as engineering, pay more than others. And further studies in specific fields won’t amount to a considerable pay increase because those fields don’t pay well even without further studies. One example of such a field is counseling psychology.
Another important consideration you need to make is student loans. You’re likely to borrow thousands of more dollars in addition to any undergraduate education debt you might have. Student debt loans are already at an all-time high, with the situation only aggravated by the pandemic.
Do employers value education or experience more? The answer is that they want their employees to have both. As much as employers value education and theory-based knowledge, there’s still merit in the argument that many more things can be learned outside of the classroom.
But it’s unfair of employers to want recent college graduates to have at least two years worth of relevant experience to even be considered for the job. Schools should offer more experiential education in their courses to help their students meet these employer demands when they graduate.
Apart from the support and aid you can get from federal agencies, you should also ask your boss if the company could offer you any assistance. Some companies offer to shoulder part of the tuition, something companies should already be doing to foster better working environments and employee loyalty. It’s not just governments and institutions responsible for reskilling members of the society, but also companies.
If you find yourself reevaluating the line of work you’re in and wondering what you can do to put yourself on a better path, you’ve probably considered taking up further education. The question is, of course, if it will be worth your time and money. Other studies have the advantage of helping you boost your resume and minimum salary. But they also come with a hefty price tag, which leads many people to stay put in their jobs. Make sure to weigh your options and your reasons for going back to school. If you’re doing it to gain more knowledge, you may just be wasting time and money — there is a wealth of other resources available to the public for little to no cost. If you’re doing it to bolster your resume and salary, then you’re doing it for the right reasons, but make sure to assess your financial situation.