When in Doubt…Go Back to School?

| September 4, 2013 | 53 Comments

When I first graduated university with my BFA in Film Production, many of my fellow students who were having a hard time finding work decided to go the academic route and get their Master’s Degree. I was contemplating this myself, especially during my 8 month jobless dry spell, but at that time I knew I didn’t want to go back to school yet. I took 5 years to finish my degree, largely because I did one year of university before applying for the 4 year Film Program, and I never took a break between high school and university. When I graduated with my degree school was the last place I wanted to even think about again and I was eager to get to work, move out of my parents’ place, and start my adult life.

I’ve been out of university and working for the past 4 years, but now that I’m in Toronto and pursuing a career here, the idea of going back to school has come up again. I do have experience in sales and marketing, which is the line of work I’m hoping to find here, but I can’t help but wonder if my arts degree is holding me back a bit? Should I go back to school and get a certificate with marketing in the title? School is never a bad idea if it means gaining knowledge and helping you grow as a person. But this time around it’ll be different. I don’t have my parents to fall back on and I would probably need to look into student loans to pay for everything.

What I was hoping was to either take a few courses while working full-time or to find a job with a company where the employer pays for me to go back to school. But, since I don’t know where I’ll end up I’ve been thinking more seriously about just going ahead and signing up for a class this fall. The more and more I think about it, I am really interested in digital marketing (I’ve got this blog to blame for that). I’m familiar with traditional marketing from my last job working at a newspaper, but it’s the online stuff that really gets me excited.

I haven’t made any decisions yet, and me going back to school is more like a plan B as I still hope to find a full-time job soon, but we’ll see what happens I guess.

Have you ever considered going back to school after getting your degree? If you’ve already done this, what was you experience like and got any tips?

-Mo’ Houses out!

(Image: evoo73)

Category: Career, Education

Comments (53)

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  1. Liquid_Independence says:

    If digital marketing is what you’re passionate about then chances are you’ll excel at it, which means you’ll likely wind up in the field you want to be in :D Having an additional marketing designation certainly sounds more practical than just an arts degree. I only have an art diploma in digital design and have been lucky to work with some great companies, but if I were unemployed today I’d look into further education as well. But for it to be a viable investment I’d make sure that the employment rate after 6 months of completing the program for past students is higher than 50%.

  2. Amy says:

    I went back to school 8 months after graduation, mostly because I work for a university so higher education is encouraged. In this day and age, you need more education than ever before (no matter if your first degree was arts or sciences). It definitely will help increase your chances of finding work. I would suggest taking a program that you can easily switch to part-time if you found work, this way you can minimalize any student loan debt.

  3. Holly Johnson says:

    If you do go back, what degree would you be working toward?

  4. Jordann says:

    I guess it depends on what degree program you’d be looking into? A four year program is a whole different ball game than a certificate program. Maybe ask Cait? I know she went back to school for communications. I have a degree in marketing, and the only time I’ve considered going back to school was when I was contemplating law school or getting my MBA – never to upgrade my marketing title.

  5. I’ve thought about it but ultimately, the return on investment just wouldn’t be worth it. I’m in eCommerce and work closely with digital marketers. Surprisingly, many of them didn’t come from a marketing background in college. I would think about about what exact degree you would want to get and if its absolutely necessary to get the job you want.

    • There is this one program that sounds exactly what I was looking for, a specialty in digital marketing which would help me in my future career and with my blogging business. It’s just a certificate program and I bet I could get it done within a year even if I’m working full-time.

  6. Meghan says:

    I wouldn’t go for generic marketing or management. I’ve found that both are useless. You need something more technical to back up a BA in Arts. Maybe Digital Marketing would work? I’m not even sure I’d go back for that. Any interest in something with a slant towards IT after working on this blog?

  7. I’ve considered going back, but for more job-specific courses, like Six Sigma and such. Less returning to full on school. I’m currently trying to do an accounting course by correspondence for work and it is terrrrrible because I am not at all interested in it!

  8. P Gould says:

    I bet most of that marketing you could use your own initiative and train yourself. I’ve been looking at doing the same thing and so far I’ve found countless books and web sites which offer this type of training. Don’t leave your job to go back to school and get into student loan debt. Part time studies that you can pay for are the best idea. Get specific training that leads somewhere, don’t bother with another degree, they are costly pictures on the wall.

    • Well that’s how I’ve been getting by these past few years, teaching myself, but I’m thinking it might look good to employers that I have some formal marketing education on my resume. I wasn’t thinking of doing another degree though, just continuing studies.

  9. if taking a couple classes and get some more experience in certain fields, is what you feel like doing, then do it! As long as it´s something you can combine with a job, then it might just be the thing you need to get your dream job!:-)

  10. I wouldn’t go back to school if it meant going into major debt. My company has a tuition reimbursement program if the degree is applicable towards your current job. I utilized it to finish the last three classes of MBA. I would advice you to wait and see if the company you land at has a similar program. Meanwhile if you want to learn more about digital marketing think about taking courses online through treehouse or other online programs out there.

    • I wasn’t thinking of doing another degree, just a certificate program that’s only about 4 courses. And it actually looks like I might not need to take out a loan which is good, but I would definitely like it if I got a job with a company who could pay for it.

  11. Nick @ ayoungpro.com says:

    Check out this post by Rebecca:

    http://www.workingself.com/millennial/you-dont-want-grad-school/

    That being said, I would try to evaluate what your ROI would be on the schooling. If you are increasing your salary enough to earn a decent ROI, it is probably worth it. If you are considering school because you don’t know what else to do, it may not be the right time.

  12. At this point I’d never consider going back to school, but taking a class or two…going to conferences, is a definite yes. When I was going to become a life coach, the cost just wasn’t worth if for me and had already gone into a little debt paying for what I did take. But I’m in my 40′s so maybe that’s why I don’t think it would benefit me very much.

  13. In my line of work I need certifications not degrees but if I wanted to switch careers then I’d go back.

  14. Suburban Finance says:

    I have a Business degree. I wouldn’t go back to school full time, I’d do something similar to what i did with my first degree and just work while doing it. It is helpful that way to apply it practically.

  15. StackingCash says:

    Another reason to go back is the possibility of networking. There could be recruiters or others in their field that might be able to give you leads on a future job. The school might offer help in job placement also.

  16. CanadianBudgetBinder says:

    Yes, I did go back to school after finishing University in the UK. When I moved to Canada I decided to go back to school to gain new skills and I did just that. It took me about 6 years but now I’m working in a career I never dreamed I would. If you are passionate about something, go for it!

  17. Kendal says:

    I have a BS in Business Marketing but have recently considered returning to school for a Masters in Communication. I haven’t taken the plunge because of the cost, and I’m not yet sure what value it will add since I’m really happy in my current position. Taking one class to determine how you feel about being in school again is a good idea! You may decide it’s not yet what you want or exactly what you’ve been looking for. Good luck!

  18. Kali @ Common Sense Millennial says:

    I’ve struggled with the same thing – go back or no? In the end, I compromised. I didn’t go back to school for another degree or an expensive program, but instead signed up for a certificate program through my alma mater’s College of Continuing Education. I’m taking 4 online courses and the end result will be that will be awarded a certification in grant writing. The courses were relatively cheap, the online aspect helps it fit into my schedule, and it’s another thing I can include on my resume. If you can get hooked up with a program like that – a few courses that are reasonably priced – I would say go for it! It’s always fun learning something new.

  19. I have definitely considered going back. But since I’m still paying off my undergrad loans, I’m going to hold off on my master’s. I think it’s great to go back to school as long as you’re going back for something you’d really like to learn about and you’ve got the financial side of it taken care of.

    • I think it’s definitely a good idea to pay your student debt off first before doing anymore school that’s for sure. So since I don’t have any debt at the moment and can afford it, I’m seriously considering it.

  20. Bridget says:

    I’m back in school for a lot of reasons. Most people were supportive of my decision, but a few challenged it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, everyone that expressed doubt or criticism is just insecure about their own career and are afraid to make a bold move (particularly leaving the workforce for a few years) in order to advance themselves. What you have to do is just trust that you know what’s best for you and your career. It’s your life, you get to make it look any way you want. That said I do think there’s way too much of the idea that degree = job, so people just go to school hoping it will make a job for them, and then are shocked when they need to put the legwork in at the end of it. I know my program is right for me because I asked myself if I would still do it purely for fun, and the answer was yes. I just started so I have a long way to go but I feel like no matter what the end result is, I’m having such a good time, I’ll be happy I did it no matter what.

  21. eemusings (NZMuse) says:

    Oh, what happened? I thought you were settling into a new job?

    DM is something you can often transition into/learn on the job. I’m thinking eventually I’d like to try my hand at a sort of social/digital/content marketing type role for a great company/brand, if I tire of pure editorial stuff. At least where I am, there are definitely entry level opportunities to get into digital marketing without necessarily requiring a business/marketing degree specifically. Otherwise, a certification could certainly help.

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