Knowing when to go back to school can be difficult. If you find yourself struggling with this decision, you either don’t have a college degree or you don’t have a graduate degree. Both options bring benefits and setbacks. Going back to school can be very costly, especially if you don’t get any support from your company in the form of tuition reimbursement or you don’t have any scholarships. If you are looking to further your education with a graduate degree, you may already be in a significant amount of student debt from the cost of your undergraduate degree. School can also take up a good amount of your time depending on how you decide to pursue your degree. There are online options and in-person degree programs which will suit your needs depending on your situation.  

The question remains, how do you  know when it is time to go back to school? The answer will likely be different for many, so here are a few clues you can pick up on that might help answer that question for you.  

You Don’t Get Promoted

Many times the easiest hint to take is when you constantly get passed over for promotion in favor of the person with a degree or advanced degree. Unfortunately this happens, and while having a degree isn’t always the best indicator of when to promote, for some organizations it can be. If you have been working in the same job role for years and can’t seem to find any upward mobility, it is time to think about getting a degree or going for a graduate degree. Getting through school and obtaining a degree just might be the move that bumps you up.

You Feel Stuck in a Rut

Doing the same thing day in and day out for some is a comfortable thing. However, for others, the same daily mundane routine can be depressing. Getting in a rut is difficult to overcome, going back to school just might be the cure. Going back to school can be invigorating and inject some life into your work. Learning new work methods, and technologies can be a boost to your productivity. Likewise, by going back to school, you may be given more responsibilities based on what you learned in your degree program. For instance, if you decide to go for that MBA you’ve been thinking about, when you get your degree you may be invited to participate in some of the financial activities of your organization.  

Your Pay isn’t What You Want

Working in a position for years with only an annual cost of living adjustment of 3% or less is unsettling. This is especially true in a situation where your peers are getting pay raises or leaving to take a job with a 10-15% bump in pay. Going back to school might be just what you need to get a pay raise. Of course, pay raises don’t happen as soon as you enroll in school, but after you get your degree it is common to see a pay raise or other opportunities arise with better pay.  

Your Work Bores You

For some, doing the same thing day in and day out for years can get fairly boring. If this describes you, then maybe going back to school could be a good choice. No, going back to school isn’t going to all of a sudden make your job more exciting. In fact, it may make it harder to do your work with the added stress of school. However, learning a new skill or career path may motivate you to get out of your boring job and land a position that is exciting. For example, if answering phones and resetting passwords everyday gets old, then enrolling in a degree program like cybersecurity or computer science could open the door to many new exciting opportunities.  

Make Sure You are Ready

Starting a new degree program is not a choice to take lightly. Going back to school is a large investment in time and money. Most four year degree programs today can cost anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000. If you decide to go back to school and do it full time, you can end up having to commit to 30 or more hours a week of school work. Of course, those 30 hours of school work are on top of a 40-hour work week and family commitments. If you would like to advance your career, going back to school and getting a degree can be a great choice. Just make sure you are prepared for the commitment that comes with it.  

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Greg Stuart is the owner and editor of He's been a VMware vExpert every year since 2011. Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 kids. He has 20 years of IT experience and currently works as an IT Consultant both in the private and public sector. Greg holds a BS in Information Technology and an MBA degree. He currently resides in Southeast Idaho. You can follow him on Twitter @vDestination, read his blog ( and listen to his podcast (