By Kristin Gross, La Casa De Esperanza
Article courtesy of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha
Children aren’t the only ones heading back to school each fall. The enrollment rate for adults returning to pursue a secondary education is on the rise. If you have been thinking about continuing your education these 3 tips will help you determine if it’s the right choice for you.
1. Calculate the cost: The cost of degree programs is difficult to find. Often times, it’s buried somewhere in the schools website. In order to calculate the cost, multiply the number of credits in the program by the cost per credit. Then add in student fees. This will give you an approximation of the cost of the program. Be sure to check your employee benefits package. If your employer offers any tuition reimbursements, subtract that from the cost of the program.
2. Weigh out the real profit: Whether it’s a wage increase at your current job or a salary increase if you pursue a new field, it’s important to determine how much more money you will make if you complete the program. This is a great time to talk to your boss and also network. Ask your boss whether or not getting this degree or certification will increase your salary. Meet with people in the field that you want to pursue. Ask what you can expect working in their industry and what kind of earning potential you will have.
3. Utilize free online programs: With Khan Academy, MIT Online, Alison Academy and many others, there is no shortage of free online courses you can take to improve your skills. Courses range from quantum physics to project management and human resources. While not all degree accredited programs, there’s a plethora of subjects in these fields that you can learn from. These courses are also a great way to test the waters and see if you are really ready to make a long term academic commitment.
One last note, going back to school for an additional degree or certification is no small decision. Make sure you do plenty of research beforehand and talk to an academic or a financial advisor to know more about your financial options when returning to college.