Summer kicks off in just a little over a week on June 21, marking the beginning of another season of fun in the sun and relaxation. With its traditionally slower pace (for some of us!), summer also provides the perfect opportunity to hit pause, take stock, and make sure you’re on track to finish out the second half of 2019 strong.
You may remember that back in December, we provided a few strategies for how to make the most of 2019 by assessing and establishing your career goals before the turn of the new year. Even if you missed that post and didn’t get the chance to set any goals for the year, it’s never too late to get started.
For now, we want to focus on those career goals that might require additional education in order to fulfill. And we’d like to know: are you currently exploring opportunities to go back to school?
Whether you already know that you want to go back to school or find that you need additional education to reach your career goals, we want to encourage you to use the summer as a springboard into the process by starting with research.
We all know that education isn’t cheap. Taking the time to do the appropriate research helps make sure that you don’t waste a single dollar. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your summer research as you investigate degrees and schools.
If you’ve been thinking about going back to school, chances are you have a certain degree in mind, but is that degree the one that you really need? Return to your career goals—where are you hoping to go in the next five, 10, 15 years? What industry do you want to be in? Will the degree you’re considering get you there? An easy way to see if you have the right direction in mind is to compare your plan with other people who are already in the position and/or industry that you want to be in. How did they get there? What degrees do they have? Identify patterns in their careers and use that information to guide your own decisions.
The second thing to consider as you research degrees is whether or not there are variations that could give you a broader range of career options. For example, let’s say you’re interested in public health. You could either get a master of public health or an MBA with an emphasis in public health. Both are valuable, but each one points your career in a slightly different direction. Make sure that the degree you’re considering is actually one that will set you up to succeed on your desired career path.
Once you know which degree best suits your career goals, you can move on to researching schools.
Finding the right school for your next degree is so important. The right school can provide not only an exceptional learning experience but also a vast network of contacts, access to key industry leaders, and support for long-term success after you finish the program.
As you compile a list of schools who offer the degree you’re seeking, start by researching each school’s credibility and accreditation. Are they in good standing with accrediting bodies? What are current students saying about their experience? What about alumni? One good measuring stick of alumni satisfaction is their level of giving. Dig around the school’s website and annual reports to see what their level of alumni giving is. Another great way to get insight into student, alumni, and community perception about the school is to look through social media profiles, read online reviews of the university, and search press mentions of the school.
But don’t stop there. Take your research a step further and also explore the faculty at the school, particularly faculty in the program that you’re considering. Just because a school has a great reputation overall doesn’t mean that the particular faculty you’ll be learning from are well suited for the job. Identify key faculty you’d be learning from and explore their work and research efforts. You want to be sure that you’ll be learning from people who are still relevant in their fields and maintain an ongoing practice in their area of expertise outside of the classroom.
After researching degrees, schools, and faculty, you’ll have a much clearer path forward and you’ll be well set to make an informed decision about where you’ll invest your hard-earned dollars for that next degree. All that’s left to do is apply!
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