Thinking of going back to school? Jennifer E. Walsh of Hawai‘i Pacific University suggests five things to consider before taking that big step.
1. Consider the next promotion: No one is promoted by accident. It happens through intentional planning and preparation. Review the resumes of people who hold positions that you would like and plan what you need to do to become similarly qualified. If it means going back to school, start now.
2. Evaluate how much time you have: Plan for two hours of at-home work for every hour in class – a typical college course will keep you busy for at least eight hours a week. If you are working full-time or juggling a busy personal life, start at a modest pace until you adjust to your new routine.
3. Choose local: With so many schools to choose from, it is hard to know which is best. Look for one that is regionally or nationally accredited; this ensures the program is carefully evaluated for quality and effectiveness. Look, too, at institutions that have a local presence. Employers are most familiar with on-island schools, and you will benefit from the good reputations of local alumni.
4. Invest wisely in you: Be sure to explore financing options, such as grants, scholarships and low-interest loans for your tuition and other education expenses. Many employers cover some or all of the tuition for work-related education. Remember to evaluate the cost in light of other products or services. In most cases, your program will cost less than a new car – and, unlike a car that will eventually break down, your new degree will yield a lifetime of benefits.
5. Become tech savvy: This doesn’t require you to be a computer whiz. Start by taking a class that helps you improve your skills with technology you use every day. You will be surprised at how confident you will feel in tackling new technology once you have mastered the current one.