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Going back to school can mean different things depending on where you are in life. Continuing your education can give you a major boost up the career ladder but it can also be costly and time-consuming. Whether you’re thinking of taking a class or two at your local community college or enrolling in an advanced degree program, be sure you’re going back to school for the right reasons. Here are three signs that it might be time for you to get back in the classroom and start hitting the books.

1. To Increase Your Earning Potential

If you’ve been stuck in a low-paying job, getting a college degree can potentially make a huge difference in your earning power. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, your level of education has a significant impact on how much you earn. Based on the numbers, individuals with just a high school diploma earned a median weekly wage of $652 in 2012. Having a bachelor’s degree boosted median weekly earnings up to $1,066. Those with professional degrees earned the most, averaging $1,735 a week.

The statistics also show that the more education you have, the less likely you are to be unemployed. According to the BLS figures, unemployment rates were highest among individuals who had not completed a college degree. Going back to school can increase your marketability with potential employers and put you in a position to snag higher-paying gigs. When you consider how much more you money you can potentially make over the course of your lifetime, going back to school may make sense. It is important to make sure the cost of going back to school will be worth it. You should make sure you aren’t overextending yourself financially for a degree that may not increase your salary.

2. To Change Careers

Taking your career in a new direction is never easy and is sometimes impossible unless you have the right education and training. Statistically speaking, demand for educated employees is projected to increase ,which makes a college degree that much more valuable.

The Bureau of Labor estimates that overall, employment across all occupations will increase by about 14% through 2020. The number of jobs that require at least a college degree is expected to grow. Positions requiring at least a master’s degree are expected to increase by 21.7% while the number of jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree is projected to jump by 16.5%.

If you’re interested in moving into a different position in your current industry or leaping into an entirely new field, earning a degree may be necessary to make the transition. As you expand your knowledge and skill set, you’ll also be expanding the opportunities that are available.

3. To Finish What You Started

If you took time off to raise a family or if health issues prevented you from finishing school, it’s not too late to realize your dreams. This is especially true if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while but you’re looking to get back on the career track. If there’s been a significant time lapse since you were last in school, going back can help you polish your skills and prepare to re-enter the job market.

If you have kids, finishing your degree can also have a profound impact on whether they go to college. The National Center for Education Statistics has conducted studies suggesting that children whose parents earn a degree are more likely to attend college. Going back to school will not only give you a sense of fulfillment but also can set a good example.

Final Word

The decision to return to school can be life-changing and the sooner you get started, the sooner your degree will start to pay off. If a lack of time or money is causing you to put off going back, ask yourself whether you can afford to put your education on hold any longer.

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