When recessions hit, people go back to school. If you can’t get a job anyway, why not build your skills, and boost your earning potential? You can acquire more skills in your field or change fields. Grad school can be a way to shelter from the worst economic effects of the recession.
But what if a recession were to happen now, as some experts predict it still might, should you go back to school? With high interest rates and inflation, is it worth it? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on your personal situation, what funding you can acquire, and what field you want to study.
Grad school can be costly, but you can increase your earning potential for the future, when economic times improve. If you’re unemployed, you may want to go to school full-time – but you can attend part-time too if that’s what’s best for your schedule. And even in a recession, there is tuition help available for people who want to go back to school and level up.
Grad School Can Be Expensive
A graduate education can come with a high price tag. It’s not uncommon for people to pay $100,000 or more to get a graduate degree. And going to school online won’t necessarily mean paying cheaper tuition. It doesn’t actually cost the university any less to offer an online course, as there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to create courses, meet technological requirements, and so on. If you’ve been laid off and your financial future is uncertain, you may not want to risk taking on debt so that you can get a graduate degree, no matter how much it can advance your career.
Tuition Help May Be Available
If you want to use graduate school as a refuge from unemployment, you’ll want to look into getting help to pay for it. There are lots of scholarships for graduate students, and you should definitely file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Before you apply to a graduate program, talk to the program director and the school’s financial aid office about possible funding opportunities. Does the school offer any scholarships to graduate students in your field of study? Are there graduate assistantships available? What about work study opportunities? Many graduate programs will offer students funding opportunities that include a small stipend to help cover living expenses, which can be a big help if you’re trying to weather a recession.
Of course, if you’re still working you may not want to give up your job to go back to school full-time. If your job offers tuition reimbursement as an employee benefit, you can go back to school online for, let’s say, a master’s in health informatics, and your employer will pay for it. Online programs are perfect for working adults because they allow you to take courses on your own schedule. However, your company may well have a policy requiring you to commit to keep working there for some number of years after you take advantage of tuition reimbursement benefits.
You Can Increase Your Earning Potential
A recession won’t last forever, and someday you’ll want to be primed to get back into the workforce with a new set of marketable and desirable skills. People with master’s degrees earn more than people with high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees. The average salary of a person with a master’s degree is $1,574 a week. You’ll also be less likely to experience unemployment during future economic downturns once you have a master’s degree.
A Full-Time Course Load Isn’t the Only Option
Going back to school full-time, in a traditional on-campus program, can be a great experience. If you’re laid off and don’t have any job prospects, going to grad school that way can be a great use of your time. But you don’t have to go to school full-time, on campus to earn a master’s degree these days. Going to school online is a good option if you don’t want to move or if you’re still working and want to meet the demands of your job, too. You can take your degree one class at a time if you want. Many programs offer accelerated classes so you can still get your degree in a reasonable amount of time that way.
Should you go to graduate school during a recession? It can be a good way to build your skills and survive a tough financial time. In the long run, more education will almost always pay off, especially if you can manage to get financial aid.