Trouble Getting the Positions You Want? How to Know When It's Time to Go for a Higher Degree

by Barbara Jolie

The decision to get a higher degree is not an easy one. Many modern college students graduate with very few job opportunities and a lurking suspicion that all those classes they took now mean much less than they thought. It's no surprise that many degree-holders are jumping to get Master's and PhD's as quickly as possible. However, there is no guarantee that a higher degree will land you a stable job any more than a bachelor's or associate degree can. So, the decision to get a higher degree has to be considered from more angles that the traditional "degree equals job" mindset. In fact, before ever making the decision to invest even more time and money into a higher education, it's better to understand exactly why you're doing it, and whether or not there still are ways to reach your career goals with the degree you already have. Here are some important considerations before you take the plunge: 

Why do you want it?First, asses why, exactly, you want to go for a higher degree. Because there is little to no guarantee that a job will be waiting for you on the other end, it's important to make sure simply getting a job is not your only reason for continuing your education.
There are some career paths and situations that simply require a higher degree, and these should be some of the first (and, possibly, only) reasons to consider going back to school just because you've been having trouble finding employment. If you want to work in a field that absolutely requires a higher degree, such as medicine or law, then you have no option other than to head to schools that provide the required degree programs for these careers. 

Will it help you in your career of choice?Another good reason to go for a higher degree is because it will help you reach higher levels in the career you have now. If you got a great job with your bachelor's degree but are slowly realizing that you will need a higher degree to move to management levels, then going back to school could be a legitimate option. However, make sure to remember than work experience often trumps education and that there are many successful leaders who have only bachelor's degrees or no degree at all. If you head out to get a higher degree simply because you want a promotion, you could be going about things the wrong way. 

Consider all your options.If you don't fall into any of the categories above and are considering a higher degree mainly because you see very few career options with your bachelor's, you may want to consider other options first.
You could try to take free courses or expand your mind and your skill set in other ways that don't necessarily require the debt that will be racked up by a master's program. Look into community programs, certificates, and free online courses to learn new information and grow as a professional. 

Consider your dream career path.It's also a good idea to re-consider your career path, if you find that doors are just not opening. Make sure that you know exactly what you want to do with your life and why. Sometimes changing your perspective and re-assessing your career goals is the key to finding your own lane. And, there is absolutely no reason to go back to school out of desperation or in an attempt to figure out what you want to do. Moving forward with a bachelor's or associate degree is perfectly possible, and looking into higher education once you are sure about your goals is a much better idea. 

Regardless of the reasons you may be considering getting a higher degree, it's very important to first consider all the things you can do with the current degree you worked so hard to attain. With a little effort or a small change in direction, your current degree may be all you really need to get moving.