myUsearch blog

Honest college information — choose, apply, get into and pay for college.

Going Back to School in a Recession?

November 21, 2008 By: Category: Choosing a College, Top Stories

Have you been laid off? Searching for a job without any luck? About to graduate without any job opportunities on the horizon?

Going back to school can be a great way to survive a recession, but is it the right move for you? To find out, we interviewed Senior Vice President and Chief HR Officer John Heins from Spherion, a leading staffing and recruiting company that placed over 300,000 job-seekers last year alone. Here is what he had to say:

  1. Considering the current economic environment, do you think this is a good time to consider going back to college? Why or why not?
    Continuing your personal development is always an important thing to do regardless of the economic environment. Employers will look for the most qualified candidates to fill their ranks. I feel the decision to go back to college is an individual decision that should be made relative to your overall career objective. Also, you should determine the relevance to your current position versus the position you want or the next step in your advancement. An open discussion with your manager will help as you assess your individual development plan.
  2. Do you think the cost of tuition of an undergraduate degree is worth the extra money you are likely to earn as a college graduate 4 years from now? Do you think the cost of a graduate degree is worth the extra money you are likely to earn as a college graduate 2 years from now?
    I think that cost of an undergraduate degree should be evaluated against your career overall opportunity and salary potential. The degree often places you on a career path that leads to a different set of experiences and a different set of career opportunities. It is that differentiation that will truly define the economic benefit of the investment.
  3. Are there any specific degrees or areas of study that you would recommend pursuing during this economic downturn?
    While there are many careers that are more recession proof than others, it is most important to pursue a degree in an area that supports your interest and skills. Keep in mind, no matter what degree you have, you will be most successful if you enjoy what you do. The good thing about a downturn is that there will eventually be an upturn. If you carefully study what will be the skill sets related to the industries and professions that will be in demand 5, 10, 15 years from now, your investment in time and tuition balanced with career interest will be key in whatever choice you make during this economic period.
  4. Do you have any other advice for employees that may be considering going back to school during the recession?
    Going back to school can never hurt. You should define what that work/life/school balance looks like for you as an individual. I will say that if you should lose your job, going back to school will help explain gaps in your resume and it can only help to position you for your next set of experiences.
  5. For those who cannot afford an entire degree, do you have any recommendations on how they may be able to increase their skill level and recession-proof their career?
    Finding a mentor is always a good thing. Everyone benefits as a result of learning what others can share from an experiential basis. Volunteering for community efforts and programs can offer an opportunity to learn new skills, keeps you active professionally and provides a great opportunity to network and gain exposure. In some professions, continuing education credits are required, so attending and remaining current with certificate programs is wise.

For more tips and information check out Spherion’s resource center or their 5-part “Recession Proof Your Career” blog series.

…..Or, if you are considering going back to school and need to find a program, complete the myUsearch questionnaire to find the right degree program for you (shameless plug, I know).