School vs. Work: Where’s the Best Place to “Wait Out” a Recession?

The current recession swept in like a tsunami, stirring up concerns about the future that even a year ago American students hadn’t considered. Chief among those concerns for some is, “Should I enroll (or remain) in a degree program, or is it smarter to get a jumpstart on a career?” Since each path is at times uncertain, students must consider these individual factors when making the tough choice between education and work experience:

Job Security
Are you gearing up for a “recession-proof” career in a stable industry like health care or energy research? If so, finding work right after graduation may be the way to go, since the demand for your particular skills is high. On the other hand, if you’re considering switching degree programs or going back for additional certification, be sure to research economic trends carefully. Today’s “hot” jobs could disappear by the time your studies are over.

Personal Goals
If earning a degree is something you’ve wanted to do for years, now might be the time—especially if you’re graduating from high school or an undergraduate program and carrying fresh knowledge and minimal debt. With any luck, the recession will be over by the time graduation rolls around, and you’ll be that much better prepared for the career of your dreams. Conversely, it would be a mistake to sign on for more schooling solely because of the disappointing economic outlook. Instead of becoming entrenched in a degree program that could leave you feeling resentful and confused, start testing the job market—you may just be surprised by the number of companies that find a way to flourish despite recession.

College Degree Cost
The needless accumulation of debt is another reason to be sure about any degree program before you enroll. Believe it or not, though the economic downturn has resulted in the elimination of some grants and endowments, there is money out there. Ask your employer about tuition reimbursement, inquire about scholarships with past and current affiliations, and pay special attention to the recently passed economic stimulus package, which includes millions of dollars for education in the form of revived and brand-new funding sources.

Unfortunately, economic turmoil is a fact of life. It’s not always fun navigating uncertain terrain, but if you learn now how to meticulously gauge your goals and abilities, you can weather any circumstance that the financial world throws at you.


This article was written by Hannah Purnell

Hannah Purnell is a staff writer for Hannah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.

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