Deciding to Return to School

For many women, continuing their education is a major step, whether they pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree, full-time or part-time.

Women can benefit from obtaining a degree in many ways (including the opportunity to earn a higher income), but there are drawbacks associated with pursuing higher education that women should also consider.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Going Back to School

Not only can returning to school increase income, but it can also help some women become financially independent from public assistance, family or a romantic partner. This can be especially beneficial for a woman who is trying to get out of an abusive relationship.

Going back to school may also lead to career advancement, better job security (which could include better employment benefits), and can even help a woman start a new career. On a personal level, school can provide intellectual stimulation and may increase the likelihood that a woman’s child will pursue higher education.

While returning to school can benefit women, there are also some disadvantages. It’s a good idea for women who are thinking about pursuing a degree to consider factors such as their readiness to handle school-related stress, time management, and whether or not they have the necessary skills for academic success.

Paying for College

Women should also determine how they will pay for their education. Fortunately, many financial resources exist that can help nontraditional students fund their degrees, including scholarships. There are also federal programs, such as the Federal Pell Grant, that can help students with financial difficulties. Additionally, graduate students may get funding through assistantships or fellowships.

Back to School To-Do List

If you’ve chosen to obtain a degree after you’ve weighed the advantages and disadvantages, here are some suggestions from the U.S. Department of Education that can make the process of returning to school easier:

  • If you’re not sure what career you’d like to enter, search different careers using tools, such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook.
  • Research potential schools using the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator.
  • It’s also a good idea to ask employers in your chosen field what colleges they recommend for the best training.
  • Look for ways to fund your education: apply for federal student aid, inquire about assistance from your employer, and research other funding opportunities such as scholarships.

For more information on returning to school, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.

Adapted and excerpted from:

L. Max and H. L. Radunovich, “Should You Go Back to School? A Guide for Women” (FCS2287), UF/IFAS Family Youth and Community Sciences Department (rev. 08/2014).

“Adult Student Checklist,” Federal Student AidU.S. Department of Education (Accessed 08/2015).