Many of my clients who are divorced have considered going back to school. The initial reasoning is that it can be difficult to grow your career as a newly single woman without a degree. Sometimes life happens, and clients never finish their degree when they are younger. Other times, a client wants to pursue a masters or even a doctorate degree because they want to continue to grow in their field of study. Either way – going back to school as an adult can be intimidating and, sometimes, it may not be necessary. Let’s start by reviewing why you might consider going back to school, and whether or not it’s the right decision for your unique lifestyle and future goals.
Why Go Back to School?
It’s true that it can be challenging to grow your career in today’s world without a degree. A college education, and sometimes advanced degrees, are required to move forward in your career or secure a high-paying job in a field that you love. A degree can open many doors for you both in discovering a fulfilling career and in landing job opportunities with higher salaries and better benefits.
That being said, your reason for going back to school may not just be financial or career-focused. Many women who either never finished their degree, or never obtained the advanced degree they had always wanted to work toward, view this new season of their lives as the perfect time to pursue those bucket-list items. Part of this might be because you want to celebrate yourself and your ability to grow, change, and improve. Part of it may be because you want to prove to yourself that you’re capable of anything, even after going through the challenges of a divorce. Either way, pursuing your degree after your divorce can provide a unique sense of emotional fulfillment and give you a leg-up when you start applying to new jobs, or look to advance your career.
Will the Benefits Outweigh the Costs?
Even if it seems as though going back to school is an obvious answer to any financial concerns, worries you may have about entering the job market with confidence, or your ability to advance in a competitive career field – it isn’t always the best solution available. Sometimes the cost of attending college outweighs the benefits.
College can be expensive, especially if you plan to enroll at a large public or private university. Your first step will be to reach out to their admissions office to get an idea of cost. Look at several options in your area, or online, and weigh the cost of each against the other benefits the school provides. You should also see if any credits you previously obtained (if you didn’t complete your degree) can count toward your degree if you were to re-enroll. This can be a huge cost saving measure, and help you get your degree much more quickly.
Think Outside of the Box
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box if you’re ready to go back to school. It’s tempting to sign up at the nearest university, enroll full time, and knock out your degree the old-fashioned way. However, in today’s world, you have so many other options available to you. If you’re determined to get your degree, don’t discount going back to school part time, exploring online classes both at local universities and online universities, and enrolling in a local community college to save money on general education credits.
You might even be surprised to find that the career field you’re interested in pursuing wouldn’t necessarily require a bachelor’s degree or advanced degrees. There are so many different courses available online, and in our virtual world the opportunities for pursuing virtual work are endless. You could work as a virtual assistant, marketer, graphic designer, editor, or freelance bookkeeper. If you wanted to work in person with clients, you could run your own photography business, sell goods at your local farmer’s market and online on sites like Etsy, or teach classes at a local community center.
I find it often works best to work backward from our goals when deciding whether or not to go back to school after a divorce. What type of work do you want to do? What’s your “why”? Do you need a college degree or an advanced degree to achieve those things? If the answer is yes, don’t be afraid to start small with a few classes or part time enrollment as you work toward your degree. If the answer is no, what do you need to do to achieve your long-term career dreams? It can help to talk through your financial options with a financial planner who has experience helping newly divorced individuals organize their money and set new goals for themselves and their finances.