Is it time for you to go back to school? Check out these five signs to help you decide.
The New Year is a great time to look for signs that could help make your future brighter. Maybe you want a promotion, more money, or even a new career. For many people, these signs might point toward going back to school.
"The most important thing is to make sure that you're doing it with a purpose in mind," says Curt Rosengren, a career coach and author of "The Occupational Adventure Guide." "If you've identified that purpose and school will help you get there, fabulous."
The point, he says, is to take positive steps sooner rather than later. And remember that it might take some time for the actual change to take place.
Here are five common signs that could be telling you it's time to go back to school.
Sign #1 - You Want to Switch Careers
If your passion is also your career, that's great. If not, it may be time to re-evaluate, or re-educate.
"Unfortunately, the statistics are pretty grim as far as people being satisfied with their work," says Rosengren. "It's been consistent for years that over half of the people are dissatisfied with their job."
Rob Schneiderman, Orange Coast College's counseling department chair, says that many of those people choose school as a catalyst for change.
"I think misery is a powerful motivator," says Schneiderman. "It gets people to move in the direction of their dreams. So being unhappy in your job is a big sign that perhaps there are greener pastures elsewhere."
Sign #2 - You Got Passed Up for a Promotion
Have you been passed up for a promotion because your education level didn't make the cut?
That's frustrating. It's also a sign, says Schneiderman.
Getting passed over for a promotion due to lack of a college degree is the number one reason Schneiderman sees people going back to school.
"Being passed up for promotion is a big indicator, especially nowadays," Schneiderman says. "Usually that's a red flag that when layoffs come around, people who aren't as educated are more vulnerable. So if you want to be proactive, you go back to school before you get laid off."
Sign #3 - You Want More Money
Often, more education means more money - at least that's what statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor suggest.
Consider their May 2011 "Education Pays..." report that looked at 2010 annual averages for full-time wage and salary workers over the age of 25. It found that people with associate's degrees made $7,332 more per year than those with just high school diplomas. Those who earned a bachelor's degree earned $21,424 more per year.
Perhaps that's the reason Schneiderman says he sees many college enrollees "who want to learn skills that will offer more financial opportunities for them."
Sign #4 - You Have Great Interviews, But Don't Get the Job
In the current economic climate, job interviews are a notch above the Super Bowl on the competitive meter. So, post-interview analysis is key.
"If you had a job interview and didn't get the job, you need to ask yourself why that was," says Dr. Ted Boehler, dean of innovation and learning technology at Coastline Community College (CCC). The answer, he says, often is a lack of valued skills - skills that formal education and preparation could supply.
Dr. Vince Rodriguez, CCC's dean of instruction, agrees, saying that the job market is so competitive, people with college degrees are competing for jobs that don't even require a degree.
"So you need to become the best candidate you can be," Rodriguez says. "Part of that is getting training. Some of that may be education."
Sign #5 - You Want More Job Security
In an economy with 9 percent unemployment, job security can feel like holding a winning lottery ticket.
So what can you do to keep your job and avoid the unemployment line?
One way might be to go back to school, according to statistics from the "Education Pays..." report.
In fact, the report found that while the unemployment rate for those with just a high school diploma was at 10.3 percent, those who held an associate's degree had only a 7 percent unemployment rate. For bachelor degree holders, that number dropped to just 5.4 percent.
Rodriguez also believes that going back to school is a worthwhile option for improving your job security.
"The best thing you can do is invest in yourself," he says.
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