For me going back to school was a complicated decision. I didn't need to but "I thought it would be a good idea". I was totally right about that. I was lucky enough to attend a school where what I learned would not only have a direct impact on my career but on my life and personal growth.

So although it's great to say I have a Masters it is even better to say I am a Master! And what I mean by that is that I am a master of my own life. I have gained tools that will help me focus and succeed in work and in play!!!

But for many people going back to school is much more about moving up in their careers, staying current or breaking through barriers. Let's look at the pros and cons and tips.

Depending on where you go and if you have to attend full-time and support yourself, you can be looking at $10,000 - $100,000!

MBAs typically make more than non-MBAs. So it's possible to pay yourself back from your additional income. But you may have to change companies to get the real pay increase staying at your old job may only see minimal salary raises. Especially if you do the same work.

MFAs, well let's be kind and say that there are no statistics on that, but all I am saying is that there are a lot of waiters in LA with masters in film and some with MBAs too.

Get someone to pay for it. Your employer often will. Most companies offer tuition reimbursement which may not cover it all but will help. And you can always ask about getting more especially if the course is job-related. I know someone who got a additional $5000 because her employer took money out of one budget for employee training and put it in her budget for further education. Work for a college. It's often free or heavily discounted (e.g. if you work for a UC school you can get up to 70% off fees).

Any further study takes time. Do you want to spend time away from your family, friends and football for film theory?

Your boss may be willing to give you study time. You can develop great work habits which help you live more effectively.

Your promotion prospects suffer because of a plethora of papers. Your partner leaves you for someone ten years younger without examatitis. You would be better spending your time making a short film rather than reading about Ingmar Bergman, or running an Ebay business rather than studying calculus for a business degree or simply working harder at your current job and doing more networking to get that better job.

You get the MBA and your employer says "good job" and lays you off. You may not make more money, or get promoted more quickly or be more successful.

Do an advanced degree because you want to learn - period!. Don't expect a new job or more money. That way you won't be disappointed but will be open to whatever comes your way.

Do research to find out how many successful people in your field have advanced degrees and what they are. Scan job ads, talk to recruiters and to your employer about what they want in a candidate or for you to get promoted. You will often find that a degree is not one of their Top Ten items.

Author's Bio: 

David Couper is a career coach and writer who for the last twenty years has worked in Europe, Asia, and in the USA with major organizations including the BBC, Fuji Television, Mattel, Sony, and Warner Bros.

He has successfully coached individuals at all levels including CEOs of major companies wanting a new challenge, frustrated souls wanting to make their dream come true, and front-line employees laid off and desperate to get a job.

David has published seven books. His works on interpersonal skills, counseling in the workplace, and management issues (published by Connaught, Gower, HRD Press, Longman, Macmillan/Pearson Publishing, Oxford University Press) have been translated into Swedish, Polish, and Danish, and published in the UK and the USA.

David has a degree in Communication, a postgraduate qualification in education, is certified in a number of training technologies, and has a Masters in Psychology. He is a member of the American Society of Training and Development, Society of Human Resources Professional, Writers Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television.

He has dual US/UK citizenship and speaks French and Japanese.

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