If you stop learning, you stop living. With that being said, professionals at every level often wonder whether their careers would benefit from a return to the classroom. There are often a lot of other life elements that limit your time and financial resources, and it can be a hard decision to make. Higher education is evolving into a much more diverse learning system so the options today are much more numerous than in the past. The following excerpts have been edited.
What to ask before selecting a university or college?
You should find out how the institution aligns their programs with actual job competencies. Ask how they stay aligned with industry trends.
In addition, find out what career resources and support are available to you after completing your program. Am I considered an alumnus only if I complete a formal degree? Do you connect students to your alumni network? Do you host job fairs in industry-specific areas?
What is the difference between traditional continuing education programs across institutions?
Many schools limit themselves locally. However, more now offer online options.
What if there is concern about time for courses?
Institutions offer assistance to help prioritize what is going on in your life. Some students just cannot put time in to be successful in a program, and if that is the case, it is not a good fit for you at that time. Ask yourself how many hours you can realistically commit to each week. Know what your limitations are and what you're getting into.
What is the most effective type of program to help people advance?
How clear are your career goals? What do you want to accomplish? If you want a dramatic change, you may need a full degree or a certificate program as opposed to a noncredit option. It is not enough to simply scan the marketplace. You need to understand what competencies you need to succeed. If a field requires a formal degree, you may need it, but otherwise you probably do not. For instance, you may need a certification in project management, for instance, but not a degree.
What fields benefit the most from continuing education?
It is hard to pinpoint, but some reap great benefits from electing to study project management or data fields such as data science, visualization and analytics.
Yeager, Marcelle (2017). “Is Continuing Education Right for My Career?” Retrieved from https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/articles/2017-06-08/is-continuing-education-right-for-my-career.