January always seems to have people thinking about what their future plans are. It could be focusing on your health and well-being or attaining your financial goals. The most common happens to gravitate around your career.
The ideas of future plans in one’s career often comes to the forefront of people’s minds when a new year comes around as a push for more motivation to make changes in your life in areas that are most important to you — after all, your career has an important part in your life.
Could returning to school be the answer to make the changes you need? For many, it presents an opportunity to learn new skills and gain qualifications for the career you want. It may present itself as overwhelming, but consider the following before taking the plunge:
- Do your research on coursework and continuing learning: One major thing to consider is the coursework or continuing learning courses you need to take as to whether you consider returning to school as a viable option. Previewing the courses available may be overwhelming, but there are so many choices available today, including classroom and online learning and your choice between day, night or weekend sessions.
- Check legislation/laws for educational requirements: Educational requirements differ by country and state/province, but on occasion, may differ by the school. Checking the educational requirements for the school in comparison to the state you wish to work your career may help in avoiding problems in the future. In the case of social work, your requirements may depend on the three levels of social work — micro, mezzo and macro — and the type of social worker license you’re seeking (e.g. LCSW, CAPSW, CIPSW, etc.). In some states, like Texas, it may require a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree.
- Be prepared to work hard: Returning to school will be difficult, but having the motivation, initiative and drive to work harder and put forth the effort to succeed.
- Balancing a job and school is tough: Prepare for hard work if you’re juggling work with school so that your standards do not slip at work. Utilizing time management properly will be essential to make the extra effort towards taking the next step in your career.
- Have faith: Such a decision to return to school is a big deal and not easy, but having faith in your abilities will go a long way.
- Do not overextend yourself financially: With the ongoing epidemic that is high levels of student loan debt, it is vitally important that you do not go into extreme levels of debt to attain your goal. According to a 2018 CNBC report, over 44 million Americans hold nearly $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, with the average borrower owing $37,172 to lenders, mostly to the U.S. government. Financial guru Dave Ramsey notes that your expensive degree may not guarantee you the job you want and you end up drowning in debt. This is vital, considering the class-action lawsuits against for-profit schools (e.g. Ashford University, Corinthian Colleges, Vatterott College, etc.) and student loan servicers (e.g. Sallie Mae, Navient, etc.).