Is it okay to quit a job to go back to school?

October 7, 2022
Posted in Questions
October 7, 2022 Terkel

When is it okay to quit a job to go back to school?

To help you best determine the right time to quit your job to go back to school, we asked career coaches, HR managers and business leaders this question for their best advice. There are several perspectives that you may draw from to determine when you could quit your job for further studies.

Here are eight perspectives these leaders shared on when to quit a job to go back to school:

  • When Pursuing a New Line of Work
  • It’s Okay to Step Out and Respond to Your Passions
  • Whenever You Feel Compelled to Do So
  • To Keep Up With Changes in the Industry
  • To Land a Better Job Later On
  • When You Get a Scholarship
  • The Payback Period is Less Than 5 Years
  • When You Feel You Can Handle Any Fallout From Giving Up Your Job and Income

When Pursuing a New Line of Work

If you’re looking to make a huge shift in your career and find that the only way you can garner enough knowledge is through certified training, going back to school makes complete sense. While there are a number of courses and tutorials available online, some technical skills are best taught through a structured learning plan —something schools pride themselves on. Besides, you’ll have a lot more guidance at an educational institute which online courses often miss out on.

Harry Morton, Founder, Lower Street

It’s Okay to Step Out and Respond to Your Passions

Only you know the answer to whether it’s the right time or not to quit a job and go back to school. Trust your gut. If a field of study calls your name long enough, it will become hard to ignore. Figure out the finances and do what you know and feel is right. You can’t go wrong paying attention to passions that call you.

Erin Banta, Co-founder & CEO, Pepper

Whenever You Feel Compelled to Do So

The younger generation not only changes jobs far more often than older generations but also changes the type of job they do and in which industry they work. A few years back, I found myself in a position where I had to make such a choice. I had worked as a programmer when the startup I worked for went bankrupt. Feeling a bit burned out, I couldn’t imagine myself working the entirety of my career as a programmer. I then decided to go back to school to study mechanical engineering, a field I had always been interested in. Since then, I’ve met many people who have done similar things, and I feel convinced that going back to school will become completely normal in the future.

Holger Sindbaek, Founder & CEO, Online Solitaire

Holger Sindbaek online solitare

To Keep Up With Changes in the Industry

As technology advances, the skills that you developed throughout your career might suddenly become deemphasized or even outright obsolete. If such a development occurs in your choice of industry then returning to school to either develop new relevant skills or pivot to another field could become worthwhile. Whatever path you choose to take, it’s wise to ensure the principles of the skills you develop remain relevant. For example, an in-store salesperson could pivot towards website development and use the things they’ve learned from their previous occupation to inform their website design.

Adrien Dissous, Global SVP of Marketing, Babo Botanicals

To Land a Better Job Later On

Quitting a job to go back to school is a good idea, especially when it may help change your professional life for the better. New qualifications and skills can make you stand out in a candidate pool while job hunting. In the long run, education leads to landing a job where you can grow, feel more satisfied, and have better earnings. Another great thing about getting formal education is that no one can ever take it away from you. Whatever happens, you will always have this ace up your sleeve. Workwise, going back to school may pay off straight away but it can also take some time. You never know. Still, it’s worth all the effort, I believe.

Agata Szczepanek, Community Manager, Resume Now

You Get a Scholarship

Quitting a job to go back to school is only justifiable if one has been offered a full or partially-paid scholarship depending on their financial capability. Success in getting a worthy scholarship is just a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should not be taken for granted. The good thing is that most companies will allow you to come back to your job position after graduation. Still, even when they do not, a scholarship is worth taking the risk of quitting a job because chances are that after you get more education you will become more competent and will get another job immediately.

Yongming Song, CEO, Imgkits- Photo Editor

The Payback Period is Less Than 5 Years

When contemplating going back to school, it’s important to understand the payback period of your investment. A good rule of thumb is that if your incremental earnings in the first five years after graduating is equal to or greater than the total cost to earn your degree, then it is generally a good investment of both your time and money. For example, let’s say you were earning $60,000 per year before returning to school and the degree you’re targeting will take two years and cost $50,000 total between tuition, books, housing, food, etc. In order for the investment to make sense, you’ll have to be confident that you will be able to land a job paying at least $70,000 per year after graduating. Payback period is not the only factor you should consider, but it’s definitely an important one from a financial standpoint.

Alaina Ross, Co-Founder & Registered Nurse, Sleep Family

When You Feel You Can Handle Any Fallout From Giving Up Your Job and Income

You have to be in the right headspace before you quit your job and go back to school. You will be surrendering an income stream and acquiring either significant debt or a steep payment. It means, in all likelihood, you will be bootstrapped. Can you handle that? And also, are you prepared for the possibility that a coveted job won’t be waiting for you immediately after you finish school? You’ll not only be financially strapped, but you will feel as though you’ll be taking one or more steps back before taking a single step forward. If you’re willing to go through that and are convinced that it’s your best long-term move, then you should do it. But only do so if you’re mentally prepared for what’s coming in the short term.

Emily Saunders, Chief Revenue Officer, eLuxury

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