Is it Time You Hit the Books Again?

To study, or not to study … That is the question. If you’ve completed an undergraduate degree, or nearly finished one, it can be tempting to return to the tertiary system in the noble pursuit of extra letters after your name.

But before signing your life away for another two years and loading another $20k onto your education loans, have a think about whether it’s the best option.  Here’s your three minute guide to making an education decision.

You’ll be in debt, lots of it…

Postgraduate study costs serious coin. While your Bachelor’s bill probably benefited from some nice government subsidies, Graduate Diplomas and Masters are all on you.

With no strict payment structure, these full-fee courses will set you back $20k to $100k. The high end being Juris Doctorates, because lawyering be expensive.

Sure, no piggy bank heads will need to smashed open for upfront payments, but it is still a loan. The tax man doesn’t forget and will begin milking your pay cheque when you start earning over $54,126 per annum.

… But it will pay off, eventually.

Despite the mountain of debt you’ll be in, those extra years of sweating over exams and essays ought to give you a competitive edge over other graduates.

As less than a third of students complete further study, you’ll be part of an exclusive club. Top hats and cigars optional. For industries like health, science, accounting and engineering, further education is often necessary to get the thumbs up from prospective employers.

Another perk may be the good-looking salary package coming your way. A 2010 study by the Graduate Careers Australia found post graduates received a median salary of $70,000, compared to $49,000 for undergrads. Nice.

Paper has nothing on work experience…

Here’s the thing, employers don’t always appreciate your second piece of paper. They want experience, for you to be highly competent in everything under the sun, and a nice person to be around, too.

It’s a tough spot you’re put in leaving the tertiary system for the real world. You need the job to get the experience, but they won’t give you the job because you haven’t got enough experience. So logic says the earlier you start on that experience, the better.

… But together they make you superhuman.

The piece of paper on its own is not enough, but with their powers combined experience and qualifications make for an A-class resume.

One of the beauties of study is being part of a network of go getters and a support system that can help get you some solid experience. Use this opportunity to score yourself an internship that will train you up with super-skills, or work part-time in a related field.

It’s be impossible to tick all the boxes for an insatiable employer, but you’ll be heading in the right direction.

It’s not all beer and skittles…

Returning to or continuing study is a hard slog. Expect less invites to toga-toting partying and more heads-down adulting in the postgraduate study environment.

You’ll be juggling more things (part-time or full-time work) and have fewer benefits of being a student (no student concession, and Centrelink covers very few postgraduate courses).

Seeing your mates with their abundance of free time outside of 9 to 5, with their disposable income and tales of career success, will also be a real downer.

… But your brain will love you for it.

While it sucks to miss happy hour at the pub again due to another essay, there is gold to be found at the end of the rainbow.

While the study may be more intense, it’s more relevant to your career goals and in turn, more interesting to you. While friends are slaving away in an office you’re cramming your brain full of exciting stuff. And it’s stay there too, with studies showing booze inhibits your ability to remember things.

Plus, you’ll be less likely to skip lectures due to a hangover, which will have your body and brain thanking you for taking the path to educational enlightenment.