Talk about a big question. A big question in which the answer could significantly impact your life, both immediately and long term. There are many reasons people pursue advanced education after being in the working world; in pursuit of a higher salary, job advancement, knowledge, to make a career change, or maybe you just really miss your college days and hope to relive every scene in Animal House. Those are just a few of the reasons. People have a variety of motivators for considering advanced education. Below are 5 questions you should ask yourself when considering if it is time to go back to school?
1. What is your motivator? Being certain about your end goal will help with answering the next 4 questions. If you are seeking a career change and you know the job market for that career will still be in demand when you have the degree is much different than the motivator of hoping to obtain a higher salary in your current role.
2. Financially is it worth it? This is especially important if continuing to work while going to school is out of the question. Will the return on the investment pay off long term in your career path? How will going without a paycheck for X number of years impact your retirement? What type of debt might you incur by going back to school?
3. Does my currently employer offer tuition reimbursement? If so, what are the conditions associated with the benefit? According to the 2014 AgCareers.com Agribusiness HR Review 77% of Agribusiness Employers offer tuition reimbursement programs for their employees. Many of those have stipulations to help protect the company from going bankrupt paying for the entire workforce to get a graduate degree. Some may require you to stay with the company for a set number of months/years after completing the degree or face paying back all or a percentage of the tuition costs. There may be restrictions on the types of degrees they will fund or there may be a set of minimum parameters to achieve for full reimbursement, such as meeting and maintaining a certain GPA while in the program. Be sure to talk to your human resources department to fully research your company’s policy before making the decision.
4. Do you have the time? Graduate school can be a big commitment and not a short lived one. Most programs take at least 2 year to complete. Does your work and personal calendar have time to accommodate that commitment and do you have a good support team in place to help you dedicate that time?
5. Should I enroll in an online or face-to-face program? Technology has changed the landscape of graduate education. There are constantly new programs being offered online from a variety of colleges and universities. However, not every program can be offered online, and depending on your learning style, online may not be the right approach for you. Depending on how you answered question 1, you may be able to find an online program that aligns with your motivators and ultimate goals.
Once you’ve answered these questions, it is time to start researching programs. The AgCareers.com University Partners program provides information about some of the top online graduate level programs in the country. Currently, 10 different schools have information about a variety of programs; from a Community Development Master’s Degree to a Masters in Food Science or an agricultural twist on an MBA program, a Masters of Agribusiness. You can comparatively shop all these programs via one click – Check out the AgCareers.com University Partners today!