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If you’re currently working and interested in going back to school, the first question you should ask yourself is, “Can I afford to go back to school if I’m not working?”

A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to get my MBA (Master in Business Administration). I searched for schools that had strong programs but also had flexible schedules that catered to working students.

I found an accelerated program where I only had to attend one four-hour class per week. Each class was eight weeks long, and the program took me two years to complete. Due to the flexible schedule, I was able to keep my full-time job, and my real-world experience even helped me accelerate in my classes.

Going to school and working at the same time can be a difficult balancing act – but it’s possible.  

To help make this difficult decision a little easier, I’ve made a list of pros and cons to hopefully help you find the best path for you. 

Pros

  • While pursuing your degree and working at the same time, you are building up your real-world experience, which can make you more competitive in the job field.
  • You will keep earning money while getting your certification or degree.
  • Many employers support their employees going to school by offering tuition assistance or reimbursement. (This can be used in addition to any financial aid you might be awarded).
  • You can use your real-world job experience to help connect what you are learning to real-life scenarios.
  • Once you complete your degree, it’s easier to get a promotion or a raise with your current company.

Cons

  • With such a busy schedule, you’ll have less free time for friends and family
  • If you decide to utilize your employer’s tuition assistance, that generally means you have to stay working with that company for a few years  
  • STRESS! Work alone is already stressful before adding more to your plate.
  • If you have to take online classes or only attend class once a week, you could end up having to teach yourself a lot of the material.
  • Time. It’s going to be hard to find the time to go to class, study, and keep up with your everyday work.

There are schools and employers out there that want you to have it all. They want you to be able to go to school and make yourself a better resource for the company. Some schools don’t want you to have to choose between them or your job to get a degree. You have to look at what’s available, know what schools offer great programs that can help you advance, and do some research.

Talk to your HR department and find out what education benefits your company offers. Then, start looking into schools that have competitive programs. 

Be open with your manager about your interest to continue on with your education goals. Sometimes they’ll be accommodating and let you create a more flexible schedule on the days you go to class.

Whatever you choose to do, give it your all. Know that if you do end up working and going to school, it’s a short-term sacrifice for a long-term reward. 

I know from first-hand experience that it pays off in the long run. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Start with changing yourself, and then get ready for the world!

We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.