Returning to School Post Grad: Why Do We Do It?

A lot of young professionals have gone back to school recently, some of us on the Notable team included. Whether it is to pursue an MBA, post graduate certificate or get some sort of accreditation like a CFA, an increasing amount of young professionals are pursuing post-secondary endeavours. We surveyed some of our readers to determine the reason why they are going back to school as the first in our three part series on the topic….

Suggested/required/paid for by employer:
Even in the wake of the global recession, many employers are still paying to send their employees back to school or are investing in them in other ways. Of the YPs surveyed, 6.7% said they went back to work as a requirement or recommendation from their employers. Especially in jobs like finance, employers see the investment in paying for their employers to pursue an MBA on the expectation that they return to work once it is completed.

Refining and Advancing Skill:
Of Notable YPs surveyed, 53.3% said they were doing so to refine or advance their skill set. Undergraduate degrees in things like psychology, political science or geography, no matter how good the university’s reputation holds, usually require that a Masters, Doctorate or law degree be completed if you wish to specialize your career path. Workers in most current desired young professional careers or intended fields are stronger applicants and less dispensable employees with a graduate degree.

Some young professionals begin their careers with the mindset that they will work a couple years after college to pay off loans or enjoy greater income flow than they did in university (trust fund kids aside) and then return for a Masters or advanced degree. Armed with broad university degrees and a few years in “holdover” jobs, we have seen an increasing amount of young professionals opting for intense but highly-specialized courses in things like marketing, public relations or advertising.

Certain professions are sensitive to changing environments and developments and thus it is sometimes essential to continuously keep up to par with the newest skill set required. For example, a few years back, it was beneficial for older PR and marketing professionals to take social media courses.

Career Change:
Unlike our parents, many of whom stay with the same career for the majority of their professional life, us young professionals don’t settle so easily. Times have changed with increasing options and high rates of entrepreneurship, especially among young professionals. The majority of us have in fact dabbled in different career choices before discovering the right fit in terms of skill and passion. Of the young professionals surveyed, 20% cited career change as their reason for going back to school. Young entrepreneurs embarking on starting their own company may need to broaden their skill set to familiarize themselves with other parts of the business that they may not be trained in, like marketing or computer design.

Personal Accolades:

Of the readers surveyed, 20% did so for personal accolades as a primary motivator, not necessary for career advancement. We all likely know that one YP who is addicted to school, either to increase their skill set, for bragging rights or personal satisfaction. For some YPs, an assortment of degrees or certificates is more important than art in the walls of their office or home.

Other reasons include:
·  Opportunities to network and meet new people

·  A chance to live in another city, in some cases

·  A break and change of pace from the workforce

When asked if going back to school was an unforeseen choice or something you have always wanted to do, most young professionals, at 53.3%, replied that they always knew they would end up going back to school. On the other hand, 26.7% said they had no idea and 20% replied that they were not sure. It is said that the average person will change careers at least once. 

Stay tuned for the next article in the three part series, which weighs the pros and cons of returning to school as a young professional.