The Economics of Getting a New College Degree

Tue, Feb 10, 2015

Bankruptcy, Debt Mitigation

Some rights reserved by Sean MacEnteeSo you want to try something new. Alternatively, you hope that a new degree will mean more income. On the other hand, maybe you always really wanted to learn more about a certain subject. Or you are required to have a certain level of education for a job you want.

How do you decide when the time is right to go back to school? Moreover, how far up the educational ladder does it make sense for you to climb? This is, of course, a different decision for everyone.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you may not need to go for a masters or doctorate in your field of work. Sometimes the amount of time and money you would put into the degree would not make economic sense compared to the gain in income. Perhaps you could consider a certificate course if you wish to supplement your degree or standard coursework– some local colleges offer these online or in flexible schedules, which might good financial sense.

If you only have a high school diploma, a bachelors or masters could mean great economic gains. However, you have to make sure that the degree you pursue will actually increase your earnings. A degree in religion may be satisfying to the soul, but perhaps not to the pocketbook.

If money is a concern, make sure you choose a course of study that suits your career goals and job availability. That’s right — you need to be realistic in picking the right educational course to fit jobs available to you. If you require a set schedule because of family obligations, then something with fieldwork and off hours may not make sense right now.

In addition, going back to school is a completely different thing when you have family and career obligations that you didn’t have when you are a teenager. It is important to pursue your dreams, but it is also important to be realistic about your academic ability. If you are concerned that a course of study may be too rigorous, check with professors, advisors, and other students if possible to see if you think you can handle the courses. If that is still a concern, see if there is another course similar to it at another learning institution that might work better with your needs for the class. You don’t want to spend unnecessary money on a course that you can’t finish or frustrates you to the point it doesn’t improve your life, but instead makes it more difficult.

If you are going back to school to get a promotion, that’s a great idea. Make sure you know exactly what you need for the promotion and the period you need it in. Perhaps you won’t need a bachelor’s degree at all…maybe an associate’s degree will do. Moreover, can you just show you are pursuing it without having to complete it right away? These are important things to consider.

If you have a previous degree or even a few classes, make sure that you use the credits you have to your advantage. Don’t repeat unnecessary coursework unless you need a refresher for a more advanced class.

Make sure that you are taking advantage of any assistance your job might offer. Do they pay for courses at particular institutions? Do they offer other incentives you could take advantage of? Also, think about scholarships or grants depending on your field of study and/or your economic and family situation.

Going back to school can be exciting or stressful. Being prepared and up to date with your expectations and needs is a great way to improve the experience and save you money!

Attorney Christopher D. Smith, Sr. is designated a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer by the American Board of Certification.  SmithLaw is located in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  Attorney Smith concentrates on bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, estate planning, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.  Call 941-202-2222 to learn more. SmithLaw offers free consultations in certain areas, including consumer bankruptcy, probate, and personal injury matters.

Image: Some rights reserved by Sean MacEntee

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