Photo: Robert Trachtenberg
Higher education can be an invaluable stepping-stone in the quest to land a great job, but that doesn't mean it's the right choice for everyone. Here are the prerequisites for anyone considering a return to campus:
1. Your research shows that there's definite demand in your new field.
Of course the field should interest you, but it also needs to be one in which there are jobs to be had. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that degree-dependent fields with strong demand in the coming years will include registered nursing, accounting, auditing, computer software engineering, technology network systems, and data communications.
2. You won't need to touch your emergency savings.
School is a choice, not a necessity. Save your just-in-case money for when you really need it.
3. You won't bury yourself in debt.
Even federal loans can be problematic if you borrow more than you can afford. As a general rule, you don't want to borrow more than you could expect to earn in the first year of work. Don't listen to what school administrators say you can afford. They aren't repaying the loan—you are. Figure out the salaries of people in your field with a degree similar to the one you want. Only then can you make a truly educated decision.
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From the November 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine