The company is offering buyout packages and I’m thinking of taking the money and running … back to school to get my MBA. I’m in my mid-40s with children in high school to support. What issues should I consider before taking the leap?
Making such a big change is brave – and scary. While it can be nice to have all your ducks in a row, sometimes just following your heart, without everything being perfectly handled is the right thing. That said here are some things to consider.
First, you need to reflect on what is calling you back to school: Is it to find a new career path? For the joy of learning new things? Or because it has been a lifelong dream? Be honest with yourself. Depending on the answer, there might be other paths to take instead.
Going back to school later in life can be challenging. Because of that it is important to be passionate and genuinely excited about it.
When you reflect on your motives, appraise what the degree will give you in terms of advancement options. An MBA can be an excellent way to change career streams or bump you up to a new level. Income lost over the duration of the program could easily be made up in increased salary levels when you re-enter the work force.
If doing your MBA has been a dream of yours, or you love the learning aspect, there is always the option to secure another job and pursue an executive MBA, which is designed to be done while on the job. Many companies are willing to pay for this kind of further education.
You also need to look at the practicalities. How big is the buyout package and will it be able to sustain you and your family for the length of the program? Related to that, you need to know how long the program is, and investigate if there are other similar programs that are of shorter duration. Is there other support if the package is not enough? And if getting your degree is about passion, will your family be willing to help out by changing their lifestyle and/or contributing to the family income for the short time you are redirecting your career.
If you do decide to go for it, pick your program wisely. These days many MBAs are tailored to specific sectors; for example, technology and science or for people without business experience.
One final piece to consider is that the situation you find yourself in, although unnerving and possibly overwhelming, is an amazing opportunity to redesign your life and to really stretch and challenge yourself as a person. Make the most of it, be true to yourself and consciously choose a path that will lead you to be your biggest and best self.
Globe and Mail; May 28, 2008