Summer is almost over and stores are already filling their aisles with back-to-school goodies. New markers, crayons, and glue sticks abound while parents wander with checklists making sure they have the prerequisite-sized notebooks. You’d think the end of pool days would be enough to drive kids everywhere into a deep dark depression, but if you’ve ever been school supply shopping with a little one, you know how pumped they are to pick out their new backpack. What if you could be that excited? Whether you didn’t finish college or have been thinking about that masters’ degree, here are five reasons you should go back to school:
1. It’s a good time to do it. Just kidding. Going back to school is like having a baby. There’s never a good time, and yet it’s always a good time.
If you wait until the stars are completely aligned, chances are good you’ll be waiting for a while. Commit to at least a class or two. If you’ve been out of school awhile, it’s hard to go back full throttle, so take baby steps. Decide what you want to do, where you want to go, and then sit down with a student adviser to plan a manageable course load. On the other hand, if you don’t have kids, find yourself staring down the throat of a long deployment, and haven’t been able to find a job at your new duty station, now might be the perfect time to go all in and knock it out. Do what’s right for you, and know that you’re a lot more likely to succeed if you’re not completely overwhelmed out of the gate.
2. There are a lot of resources. Between the GI Bill, MYCAA, and branch-specific scholarships, there are a lot of financial aid opportunities available so that going back to school doesn’t set you too far back. Some schools even offer awards to spouses, so be sure to do your homework upfront. Military.com has put together a great list of different opportunities here.
3. Fill resume gaps. Hey, we get it. We’ve been there. It’s hard to start over every time you move. It’s why a 2013 MOAA survey found that 90 percent of military spouses are underemployed. There is nothing more frustrating than hearing “You’re HIRED!” and “We have orders!” in the same week. Education is one of the best ways to fill resume gaps. It shows initiative, commitment and drive. And when you’re finished with whatever degree you’re pursuing, your resume will be even stronger with that information on there.
4. You’ll want to do it. Going back to school is a great way to keep your goals in sight and make active progress toward achieving them. When you decide to do it, you’ll be ready to give your classes your all. Gone are the days where your parents are telling you have to do something and packing your lunch (although who doesn’t crave their mom’s PB&J?). When you decide to return to school, it’s because you’re ready. You know the commitment ahead, and you’ll get much more out of it than if you were just checking a box. Author Brian Herbert said, “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; and the willingness to learn is a choice.”
5. Accomplishment. Finally, go back to school for you. When you go back to school as an adult, you’re making an investment: Financially, emotionally and physically. Invest in yourself! You are worth it. Finishing that degree you’ve been wanting to pursue will bring you an unbelievable sense of accomplishment.
This fall, walk through the back to school aisles and listen to how excited kids get picking out pencils. While you’re there, find your enthusiasm for enrollment, buy yourself a new backpack, and go for it. Whether it’s an associates, a doctorate, or somewhere in between, now is always the best time to start.