The Pros and Cons of Going Back to College

With the job market the way it is right now, going back to college can be a very smart decision for your future but there are some potential issues that you may want to keep in mind.

Pro: Make More Money

A graduate degree often results in a higher starting salary. Getting a higher degree often results in a raise for those already working too. Graduate degrees may also open doors to promotion opportunities and career advancement that a regular undergraduate degree will not.

For my husband, his graduate degree was necessary to switch from teaching to being a school librarian. It also led to a straight $1500 raise a year and is the only way he could ever be considered for any positions in administration. He’s now considering a doctorate.

Pro: Increased Knowledge Base

The importance of an upper level degree is that it demonstrates that you have expertise or knowledge of a given subject area. Going back to school can lead your colleagues and supervisors to view you in a whole new light if your degree pertains to your job. If you can demonstrate an expertise in a given field, you could even be billed out by your employer at a higher rate. This means more revenue for your firm which makes you an even more valuable employee to the company.

Con: Higher Debt Loads

Graduate school is not cheap and many master’s degree graduates are coming out of school with massive sums of debt. A graduate degree could give you and additional $40,000 to $100,000 in loans. Doctors often graduate with debt levels that are well in excess of $100,000. It can take years of income based repayment just to pay off all of the loans that were taken to pay for graduate school. This means that the first few years of salary are largely devoted to paying down debt.

For my husband’s graduate degree, we paid using the cash we usually set aside monthly for the emergency fund. His 2 year master’s degree cost less than $15,000 and simply postponed a few of our savings goals. Even if we had to take any loans, his enjoyment of his new job versus his old one would have been worth it.

Con: No Guarantees of Employment

While a graduate degree can help in finding a job, there are no guarantees that you will find employment. Many students have returned to school only to discover that they are unable to find employment in the job market. For certain majors, a graduate degree does very little to improve job prospects anyway. These individuals end up unemployed with large student loans that need to be repaid. Please remember to at least look at future prospects before jumping back into school.

What are your views on going back to school?

Edwin C

Edwin is a marketer, social media influencer and head writer here at Money In The 20's. He manages a large network of high quality finance blogs and social media accounts. You can connect with him via email here.

6 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Going Back to College

  • September 12, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    My masters was about the same cost as your husband’s Crystal. Mine was an online degree in Family Financial Planning. I would take classes endlessly if I had the time and resources. I love learning. Even if I don’t directly put thaose skills to productive use, it does add to the base of human knowledge, as you point out.

    • September 13, 2011 at 9:17 am

      I’m the same way, I love to learn and although I paid a hefty sum for my education, I’m on the verge of enrolling in community college classes because I want some more structured education..I can’t believe I just said that but it’s true.

  • September 12, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Although unemployment is high, college graduates have the lowest unemployment rate. Right now, new grads may have some trouble getting a job, but this is temporary.

    • September 13, 2011 at 9:16 am

      I agree, things should get better…it’s only a question of when. Until then though, that basic increase and knowledge could be used to create your own venture.

  • September 13, 2011 at 5:56 am

    Unfortunately, I think one of the biggest cons is that you are not guaranteed a higher paid salary, or even a raise. I think it’s very important to pursue a graduate degree in a field where you are CERTAIN, you will be rewarded. The investment of time and money can be substantial, and you absolutely need to weight the return on your investment.

    • September 13, 2011 at 9:18 am

      Yep, it all depends on your company, your degree and the general mood of your’re at their mercy to some extent. You’d think a degree in IT in an IT field would guarantee a pay raise, but don’t count on it. Do your research.


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