Financial hacks for millennials: Going back to school

4 MIN READ | #blog

As we continue to readjust our lives to a global pandemic, you may be wondering if now is the time to use that time to go back to school to pursue a higher degree, or if you can build new skills in other ways. As with any major financial decision, there are many factors to consider.

Tips for going back to school:

Make a plan

Think about the your life you envision for yourself in the next five or ten years. What work do you see yourself doing? What are your career and financial goals?

Once you are clear on your goals, you’ll be better able to assess if it makes sense to go back to school or if there are alternative ways to build the skills you need to achieve your goals.

Connect with others

Reach out to people who work in the field you’re considering and ask them how they got there. Did they go to school to get into this line of work or did they focus on building up their skills and experience?

You can ask about industry trends and employer preferences around skills training versus formal education. Get a sense of whether they seem happy with the work they’re doing and try to put yourself in their shoes. In the future, is this where you see yourself? Would you be happy in this line of work?

Traditional schooling versus skills building

Certain fields require a degree or formal training. For example, if you want to become an accountant, teacher, lawyer, or healthcare professional, you’ll have to go back to school.

For certain jobs, you’ll need specific credentials to enter the field. If you’re interested in a career in areas like digital marketing, writing, or human resources, there are programs you can take, but you can also consider gaining these skills in other ways, such as online learning.

Consider the return on investment (ROI)

When thinking about any major financial decision, it’s important to consider the potential ROI. College degrees come with a hefty price tag and you could find yourself missing out on income while you study. So how do you gauge whether it will be worth the investment of time and money?

Stay focused on your goals:

  • If you are mid-career and want to increase your expertise in an area where you already have experience, you may benefit from investing in formal training or an advanced degree.For example, if you have been working as a mid-level employee and want to progress into management roles, management training or a degree could give you the skills needed to succeed in a higher paying position.
  • If your goal is to pivot into a new career where you have no experience, formal training could help you get there. If you need specific technical skills to achieve your goals, there are many free and low cost options like LinkedIn Learning3 and Coursera.4 Entry level employees who want to move up to a more specialized role can add technical skills to help secure a higher paying position. If your goal is to secure full time employment and you don’t have the funds or time to invest in going back to school, online learning can help you gain knowledge and strengthen your resume while you job hunt.

Consider how to fund your education

If you have decided that your path forward includes formal schooling and a degree, assess how you can get the most for your money and how to fund it. Key considerations include whether to attend a public or private school, which can significantly impact the cost of your education; how long it will reasonably take you to get your degree if you will continue to work while pursuing it; and how many credits you can afford per semester. Once you’ve calculated your cost, you need to think about how to fund your studies:

  • If your new degree is related to your field of work, check to see if your employer has a tuition assistance program
  • You might also want to start a 529 plan for yourself to create a college savings plan that offers tax and financial benefits.1
  • Cash value from a whole life insurance can also be a source of funding for education.1

We are living through unprecedented times, and making decisions around the future can be challenging. Take the time to plan, do your research, and really think through the pros and cons of going back to school. Whether you decide to go back to school or upgrade your skills through continuing education, there are more options now than ever before.

Brought to you by The Guardian Network © 2020, 2022. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, New York, NY. 

2022-142954 Exp. 09/2024

Not seeing what you’re looking for?

The Guardian Network®

Living Confidently is powered by The Guardian Network.






Material discussed is meant for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as tax, legal, or investment advice. Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, the information should be relied upon only when coordinated with individual professional advice. Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof.