Have you ever thought about going back to college? There always seems to be a few reasons that hold you back (like, "I'm too old" or "I don't have the money"), but if you are honest with yourself, an improved education could benefit you tremendously. In fact, here are five incredibly beneficial reasons for you to invest in your college education and start taking classes again.
1. Improves Your Discipline
When I went back to school for my MBA, I suddenly had much less time on my hands, which forced me to plan each of my days, especially if I wanted to have a little downtime to myself for a weekend. Due to the more difficult schedule, I actually utilized my time so much better. In addition to blocking out time for homework and classes, I was able to schedule in a consistent exercise regimen, date nights with my girlfriend, and even squeezed in some time to teach myself to build websites.
By attending school, I was able to weed out all of the things that I used to waste my time on (like watching TV and playing video games) and fitting in everything that was important to me. Without the pressure of classes, I probably would have just kept wasting my time.
2. Increase Your Earnings Potential
If you only have a high school degree in this day and age, you are put at an immediate disadvantage (which I don't agree with, but that's another story). The average income for you is $40,000/year. With a bachelor's degree, your income could increase by $20,000 up to an average of $60,000 per year. And, if you head back to school yet again for your Masters, then you would likely be bumping your income up yet again, with the national average at $81,000 per year.
So, let's say you head back to your state college and spend $20,000 for your MBA degree. There is no guarantee that you'll get a promotion, but over the next couple of years you will likely see your pay increase to the average (either by switching to another company, or by getting that sought-after promotion), thereby increasing your wages by $20,000 in that single year! Work for another 20 years and your $20,000 investment has earned you an extra $400,000. I'd say that heading back to school would be worth it, wouldn't you?
3. Increase Your Knowledge
When I got my MBA, I excitedly went to my mentor with hopes of an immediate promotion. Well, apparently life doesn't work this way anymore. He basically said, "Yeah, it's great that you got that piece of paper, but now I want you to show me what you know... What have you done for me lately?" In other words, I need to prove myself in order to get that big promotion that I've been hunting for.
Fortunately, I didn't head back to school simply to say that I was an MBA grad. I absorbed everything that I have learned and am applying it to my work every day. With my schooling, I am now able to look at problems differently and come up with much more effective solutions. My improved knowledge will shine through my work and will soon increase my pay. It will do the same for you too.
4. Tax Credit
If you are earning less than $80,000 as a single or $160,000 as a married couple, then you qualify for this college education tax credit (known as the American Opportunity Tax Credit). By spending more than $2,500 at an accredited institution, you likely qualify for the $2,500 tax credit. This is a fantastic reason to get off your couch and apply to your local college!
5. Increase Your Network
As our world becomes more global and interconnected, jobs are often more difficult to get for those that are not working to increase their network. Personally, I used to think networking events were beyond stupid and a waste of time. You show up to the lobby of a hotel and pretend to care about other people there that just want you for your name and business card. Well, in all fairness, I still believe that these events are stupid, but I now understand the value of a network.
The more corporate friends you make, the more opportunities you will have to move up the ranks in those companies. LinkedIn is a fabulous site that can help you stay connected with your working professional friends. By meeting new people at my work and staying connected, I have been involved in many wonderful opportunities and have gotten promoted because of them!
Do you know one of the best places to meet new people that work in various companies all around you? College. In my last two years of college, I have networked with engineers, nurses, SEO managers, presidents of manufacturing companies, and many others! These friendships have actually opened up a few doors for me as well. Bottom line, make friends, stay in touch, and don't be afraid to ask about open positions if you are hunting for a different job. These connections are invaluable to you and your future.
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In today's world deadlines are shorter, employees are managing themselves and technology is transforming the nature and pace of education and wok. Throughout my working career and educational path, I have experienced these changes and strongly believe that a master's degree will give me the necessary tools to better understand today's fast-paced lifestyle. There are also three main reasons that have inspired me to continue my education which are personal achievement, educational attainment and career advancement.
As the oldest daughter of two professors, education has been part of my life since I was a little girl. I grew up in a small town in Mexico where my parents owned for almost 20 years a private school from Kindergarten to High school. School was literately my second home. "It is never too late to pursue your goals" my grandma used to say and she definitely set that example, she graduated from nursing school at the age of 52 in Mexico City worked for a clinic and also consulted patients at her home. It was not easy for her since my grandfather was the typical "macho man" that did not want his wife to work, but grandma was persistent and accomplished her dream. Their life styles changed completely and were able to pay their house and travel more. When my father moved to Chicago even though he did not know the language very well; he enrolled in Northern Illinois University and obtained his master's in Education at the age of 52. The spirit of perseverance is in our blood. At the age of 21, I moved to Chicago; it took me longer to graduate because I spent a year in an ESL (English as a Second Language) program, but I received an associate's degree in International Business when I was 24 and a bachelor's from DePaul University at the age of 27. I was already married and with a kid. My ancestors have been true believers of continuing education and I cannot be the exception. My goal is to set a new family record by obtaining my master's degree before the age of 40. Hopefully, my kids will be inspired by their previous generations and will continue studying as part of a family tradition.
Having a school as a second home helped me see education as a positive and fun experience. I really enjoy learning. It fascinates me how the teaching system has changed over the past 10 years. The use of technology has really replaced most of the personal teaching experience we used to have back in the days. Call me old fashion, but I still like the fact of having a one on one with professors and read books versus emailing professors and read e-books. One of the main reasons I decided to enroll at NAU is because they offer the best of both worlds. Through the cohort program, NAU allow students to meet for class with a professor once a week and at the same time; they are exposed to the new online system by participating on web boards, discussions, and even taking tests online. This is a great way to work and interact with a group of professionals to achieve a common goal in today's changing world. I want to be familiar with the new use of technology applied in today's learning system. This will help me to have an open mind to better understand my kids while they are in school. I want to be able to assist them with the latest technology thorough out their education. I have already noticed changes such as seeing my 10 year old daughter taking typing classes in 5th grade. I remember I took typing classes in high school! Computers nowadays are not a luxury anymore, but a necessity for today's learning system.
Nowadays, the new world of work is complex, ambiguous, changing, diverse and global. I have carried too many titles in the past 10 years of my working experience. Most of my job related experience has been in the private sector, but when I moved from Chicago to Tucson, I wanted to kill two birds with one stone. Working at the University of Arizona has helped me gain experience in the public sector and also continue my educational goals. The benefit of getting tuition reimbursement is too good to be ignored. I was lacking experience in diplomacy and the bureaucratic field and every day, I have an opportunity to sharpen those skills at my current position. I am hoping to pursue new opportunities within the University once I complete my master's in leadership and obtain enough experience in the public sector.
Every day, we are challenged with new situations at work and the fact to apply the right knowledge to solve a problem in different ways is fascinating. I really enjoy what I do and acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses. I am confident that the Masters program will help me sharpened my skills and overcome my weaknesses. The workforce is changing by the minute, the use of technology, diversified work force and outsourcing demands us to manage ourselves by doing more for less. We are challenged on a daily basis and if we are not prepared or up to date in understanding the changes affecting our organization, we will not be able to perform our jobs efficiently.