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Stuck in a Career Rut? Here’s How Going Back to School Can Help

Stuck in a Career Rut? Here’s How Going Back to School Can Help

Do you feel unmotivated at work? Do you struggle with your identity as a worker or worry that you can’t advance any further in your career? If you’ve already tried everything you can think of to breathe life into your job, you might be burned out or stuck in a career rut. If so, you’re not alone. Many workers report feeling bored and uninspired at work. 

You don’t have to live with these feelings forever. Going back to school can shake you out of your burnout and help you find a role you can be truly excited about. 

Is It Time to Consider Going Back to School? 

If you’re counting down the hours at a job you don’t feel connected to, or you feel irritated with a boss who refuses to give you a promotion, you’ve probably fantasized about a new job and possibly about going back to school. So how do you know it’s time to turn daytime fantasies into long-term reality? Some signs that you’re stuck in a career rut that college could cure include: 

  • Your workplace has minimum educational requirements for the next step that you want to take. 
  • There’s no upward mobility in your job—or upward mobility exists only if you get a degree. 
  • You feel like your job is meaningless. 
  • You want a career that affords you the chance to give back to your community. 
  • You can’t imagine working this job for the rest of your life. 
  • There are lots of careers you’d rather have, but you need more education to make the switch. 
  • You’re trapped in a workplace that doesn’t motivate you, but you stay there because it’s the best option, given your experience and educational achievements. 
  • You initially pursued a different career, but you left college early for financial or other reasons. Now you can’t stop thinking about that career. 
  • You want a job that gives you an identity and a sense of meaning. 
  • Your supervisor admits that you’re qualified for a role you hope to advance to, but cautions that you must get a degree first. 
  • You’re better at your job than more senior workers, but they all have degrees. 
  • You’re not making enough money to pay your bills, send your kids to college, take vacations, or pay for retirement. 
  • You want your kids to see you serving in a role that suits your personality and values. 
  • The biggest barrier to pursuing more education is financial. 
  • You fantasize about returning to school and think you would enjoy it. 
  • You keep stumbling across enticing career opportunities, but you hit an application ceiling because you don’t have the right educational credentials. 

Going Back to School to Land a Career You Love 

Just about everyone could do more with more money. And while money can’t exactly buy happiness, research does show that people who earn enough money to cover their basic needs—including healthcare, quality housing, childcare, vacations, and saving for the future—are happier. 

People with just a high school degree have median weekly earnings of $746. A college degree offers a massive increase in median earnings. With a degree, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports median weekly income of $1,248. Working a full-time job at 40 hours per week, that means a degree could boost your earnings by $26,104 per year. How much more could you do with $26,000 a year? 

Returning to school doesn’t just offer a path to a career you love and higher earnings You’ll also have more job security. Even in a good economy, unemployment is significantly lower among those with college degrees. During the Great Recession in 2008, people with just a high school degree had an unemployment rate of more than double that of those with college degrees. Ten years later, the Brookings Institution reports, those with the lowest educational attainment had still not recovered economically. 

At some point in your career, a recession is virtually inevitable. But the right degree offers access to careers that offer significant job stability, even when everyone else is getting laid off or looking for work. 

The best way to secure a raise is to simply ask. But how should you approach  the conversation with your boss? This infographic has the answers.

How Going Back to School Can Brighten Your Future 

It’s not just boredom that can sap your motivation and make work the worst part of your day. Nearly half of American’s aren’t saving at all for retirement, and most of those who are saving aren’t saving enough. The picture for college savings is even grimmer. Only about half of American families with children have started saving for college. It’s easy to dismiss these choices as financially irresponsible. The reality is that many people who choose not to save do so because they simply cannot afford to. Returning to school can change all of that. 

With more income, you won’t just be better equipped to afford your bills today. You’ll be empowered to shape a brighter tomorrow. Even in the best jobs, people have bad, boring, or demoralizing days. Knowing that your job is helping you make the future brighter can help you get through these times. When you feel like you’re getting something lasting—a long-term investment—from the time you devote to work, then fighting traffic and navigating workplace politics can feel easier. 

Some of the many ways a new job can change your future include: 

  • Enabling you to save to buy your own home—or invest in a larger, better home in a community with great schools and exceptional neighbors. 
  • Helping you afford a comfortable retirement. Your senior years present many uncertainties. With a healthy retirement account, you can start that winery you’ve always dreamed of, manage chronic health conditions, and move to a senior living community if you need to. You’ll never have to worry about relying on the goodwill of loved ones or becoming a burden to your children. 
  • Empowering you to plan for your child's future. Invest in great schools, stellar daycare, and a college savings account so that finances never have to limit what your kid does with their life. 
  • Giving you the chance to invest in self-care, as well as the luxuries that make life more joyful. Take a vacation with your family. Celebrate your parents’ 80th birthday with a big party or a cruise. Get a massage. Whatever a good life looks like to you, whatever your ideal future is, the right education gets you closer faster. 

Change Your Job to Change Your Life 

Do you feel good about your job? Or is it just something you have to slog through before you fight traffic to return home exhausted? If you work a 40-hour week, you spend about a third of your life at work. Factor in getting dressed, commuting, and thinking about work, and you can easily spend most of your waking hours doing job-related tasks. Everyone deserves to spend their life doing something they enjoy. Don’t resign yourself to frustration. 

Work stress isn’t just an inconvenience. It can erode your mental health and even cause stress-related illnesses. A job you love can help you feel less overwhelmed, improve your health, and feel better about yourself. A small investment of a few semesters will pay off for the rest of your life. It’s hard to find any other commitment that offers such significant rewards for a short-term sacrifice. 

Think You Can’t Do It? Here’s How SNU Helps 

Sixty percent of adults have contemplated going back to school, but say that financial barriers deter them from pursuing their dream. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you are ready to walk the path to a brighter tomorrow, we’re here to help. Most SNU students receive financial aid, and in many cases, they get enough funding to cover the total cost of tuition. Our financial aid office can help you explore your options. 

Financial support is just the foundation of what we offer, though. From the moment you enroll, we are committed to your success. Our unique cohort model prepares you for the professional world by nurturing a ready-made business network. Cultivate excellent study skills by working with your cohort, reading our blog, or taking advantage of the many online resources we offer. Our flexible class options mean you can attend school online or with a commitment of in-person attendance just one night a week. Go at your own pace, and learn in the way that feels comfortable to you. Every student at SNU is special, and we’ve worked hard to cultivate an educational model that nurtures each learner’s unique style and needs. 

If you’re ready to get started, begin by learning about your options for affording school. Download our free financial aid guide for a comprehensive overview of the many resources we offer you.

How to ask your boss for a raise

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