The decision about whether to return to school can be a challenging one. The pros and cons of continuing your education might even be confusing. During unconventional times in the middle of a global pandemic, it can be difficult to know which direction to go. If you’re considering returning to school but haven’t made a final decision, read on for questions to ask yourself.

Why are you considering returning to school?

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The first thing to think about is your motivation for returning to school. Is it that you never completed your bachelor’s degree and would like to see it finished? Perhaps you hope to take a registered nurse exam but need the associate’s degree first. Maybe it’s that you’re currently unemployed and want to find a productive use for your time.

No matter what your reasons for considering going back to school, it’s important to be sure of them. Knowing why you’re considering a new goal will help make your plans to complete it more achievable. If you’re already a registered nurse considering returning to school for advanced practice, do additional research to be sure of your intended specialty before submitting your nursing school application. Google search for terms like ‘FNP medical abbreviation,’ ‘patient care changes,’ ‘family practice nursing,’ ‘master’s degree,’ and more. The more you know about your potential doctoral degree or nursing program, the more equiped you’ll be to make decisions around schooling.

Can you afford to continue your education?

The idea of returning to school is great for people of all ages. The trouble can arise when it comes to how much money degree programs and clinical training can cost. If you’re not currently working or working remotely, take advantage of your time at home to look for scholarships, eligibility requirements for grant programs, and financing options. Whether your plan is a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing or a longer term goal to become a medical doctor, you’ll want to plan the finances ahead of time. Be sure you won’t hit your lifetime caps for student loans mid-program, too. The extra time you take now for planning finances could make the future easier for you. Before making that final decision on school is the perfect time to get finances in order.

What do you hope to gain from more schooling?

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Once you begin researching options for school, you’ll likely start getting calls from programs anxious to enroll you. Be sure that you’re aware of apps for tracing unknown callers before those calls start coming in. Never give your financial or personal information out to an unknown person. In the meantime, spend a little time reflecting on your overall goals. Ask yourself the following:

  • What do I hope to learn from this?
  • How will this change my life?
  • How will school impact my family members?
  • Why is this important to me?
  • Who will benefit from me furthering my education?
  • Where do I see myself in five years with my new diploma or degree?

In answering those few questions, you’ll be another step closer to the right plan for you. At the end of the day, the decision of whether to return to school is entirely up to you. In the United States, people with advanced degrees tend to make more money and struggle less with monthly payments than those who don’t have college educations or high school diplomas.

Whether you hope to return to school for personal satisfaction or for a higher income, take time to list the pros and cons of your decision. Understanding why you’re making this choice and what you hope to gain from it will give you confidence before making your next career decision.