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Going Back to School in a Recession?

April 17, 2008 By: Category: Aid for College, The Nontraditional Student

It’s easy to get a little freaked out by all of the news of recession. Just like any other bad news, “if it bleeds, it leads” and news organizations are going to try to capture your attention by making any economic downturn sound as bad as possible.

If you’re hesitating going back to school because you feel the future is too uncertain, or you don’t want to take on debt in a recession, remember that recessions are temporary; education is permanent.

Recessions Are Temporary
The economy naturally bounces up and down, and yes, we’re going to see some tightening up. Many companies will see slower growth, and that means they take on fewer new employees, and might not immediately replace employees they lose.

The job market will be tight for a year or two at least–and that’s exactly why this would be an ideal time, if you can swing it, to step out of the daily grind and return to school. By the time you’ve obtained that degree, things should be heading in the right direction again, and you’ll be in a great position to move forward in your career.

And even if the recession lasts a little longer than predicted, which would you rather be in a tighter job market–the person with that degree, or the person without one?

Education Is Permanent
When you’re making decisions about your career (and your life), try as much as possible to focus on what will endure. A degree–and the knowledge that represents–will serve you in good stead from time you obtain it until the day you retire, and possibly beyond.

Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, you may find that you’re taking on a significant amount of debt. But the advice not to take on debt during a recession applies to high-interest, non-deferrable debt like car payments or credit cards.

While you don’t ever want to be cavalier about your finances, you need to remember to amortize your college debt over your entire career. If you’ve made a solid, realistic plan for your professional future, and going back to college is part of that plan, you can go forward with confidence.

Remember that education is a permanent investment, both professional and personal. Don’t let short-term economic worry keep you from making a long-term investment in your future.


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