MANILA - With the job market getting more competitive by the day, you may be thinking of going to graduate school for self-improvement. The need to expand one’s knowledge and credentials has become even more necessary in order to stay one step ahead of the rest.
One immediate benefit of going to graduate school is that it enhances your curriculum vitae. It also allows you to apply for higher-level jobs which should equate to better pay.
You also get to meet new people and learn from their experiences. Later on, these classmates could become your mentors and partners and will be with you in your journey ahead.
However, graduate school is not cheap. Depending on where you choose to enroll and the course you take, it could set you back anywhere from a low of about P50,000 a semester (for two subjects) to P100,000. If you go to an international school, the tuition can go to the vicinity of P1 million. The price will definitely skyrocket if you opt to go for further studies abroad.
If you’re working, going for full-time graduate school also means lost income for that period you are in school. It also means that those you left behind at work are gaining more experience in the workplace compared to you.
Definitely, going to graduate school will cost you both time and money, so you want to make sure that it’s the right call for you. Before you make that choice, we narrowed down the top five issues you need to consider:
1. Can you pay your tuition?
Unlike undergraduate school, you cannot expect your parents to cover this cost. Do you have enough savings for this, or will you need to take out a loan? If the latter, where do you plan to take out the loan and when do you expect to start paying for it?
Consider asking your company if they are willing to sponsor your studies, by showing them how your new skills would actually redound to the company’s benefit. You can also seek a loan that you can pay once you have returned.
2. How about alternative education modules?
If you determine that traditional graduate studies is too expensive for you, then look out for other options. Online courses, for instance, cost far less at just about P20,000 per semester. Some even give you free enrollment for the first few weeks, with the balance to be paid after you have completed the courses.
Blended courses that combine online and classroom sessions are also available and may be more affordable. Just make sure to check out the online school’s credentials and take the time to ask around if any of your friends or colleagues have enrolled in the course you are looking at.
3. Check out part-time options.
If you can’t quit your job, maybe you can go for part-time studies, which are being offered by some of the top Philippine business schools. Typically, classes are held in the evenings and on weekends. Although going on this mode may take longer to finish, you can continue to earn as you study.
4. Are you ready to adjust to a "student" lifestyle?
Your school-related expenses could add up drastically, and could affect your lifestyle. If you will quit your job so that you can focus on your studies, the impact on your lifestyle will be more pronounced. You should be ready to make some sacrifices and to scale back your spending during this period.
5. Manage your future pay expectations. Most assume getting an MBA will make them rich, or richer. However, it is not a guarantee that you can earn more, but it does allow you to apply for higher-level jobs at larger companies that have more generous compensation packages.
Some companies require an MBA or master’s degree before you can be promoted to an executive position. In some instances it can give you an edge over another applicant being considered for the same post. Before applying for an MBA, take time to think about your plans on how to return to the job market. Make sure you ask around to find out if your pay expectations are in sync with what the market is offering.
Although the financial benefits of a graduate degree may not be immediate, its contribution to your personal development will stay with you over the long haul. Let’s face it, for some of us, the benefits of going for a master’s or doctorate degree may not come immediately.
However, there may be a number of intangible benefits that would come with it, such as access to an expanded social and professional network, and the fulfillment that comes with added knowledge.
Learning is a lifelong process, and there are no boundaries and limitations to this. At the end of the day, your professional and personal growth are deeply intertwined, which is why you should invest in these. Pursuing higher education will require commitment and dedication, so you have to be very sure that it’s something you really want to do.
Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between ABS-CBNnews.com and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.
Visit www.citibank.com.ph for more information.