Making the Decision to Go Back to School

Frances felt stuck.  She had been with the same company for 10 years and had worked her way up to a position in internal sales.  But with two children and a large mortgage, she wanted to move into management for the earning and career potential.  However she knew that the corporate culture where she worked dictated that she have a Masters in Business Administration (MBA).  Her family depended on both her and her husband’s income so she knew that it wouldn’t be possible for her to quit work and go to school full-time.  And with little savings to put toward footing a school bill, she couldn’t break the bank to get the degree.  To complicate matters she needed to find a program that would fit around her husband’s hectic job that involved a lot of travel and wanted to be able to maintain some downtime with her children on weekends.  As she looked at all the variables she couldn’t imagine how it would ever work for her to return to school.

Perhaps, like Frances, you have considered going back to school to get a degree.  Or you would like to go back and finish a degree that you had to interrupt for family or work reasons.  Or perhaps you would like to get additional education and training in a new field. 

According to Sallie Mae (the student loan association), adult returning students (also referred to as non-traditional or continuing education students) can be classified as:

  • 24 years or older
  • Re-enrolling at the same or different college
  • Pursuing a career change
  • Students with children
  • Students who did not attend college directly after high school

The number of adult returning students is rapidly increasing.  With more than two-thirds of all women in the U.S. doing some work outside the home, the decision to go back to school for adult women means figuring out how to juggle work, family, and finances on top of school work. 

Let’s follow Frances and see how her decision-making process can give you some insight about how to think about, and plan for, going back to school.