I have a friend (I have several- I think, but yeah anyway), and her name is Amber. Here is some background on her.
- Amber is 28 years old, and has a Diploma in Holistic Nutrition.
- Amber is extremely bright.
- Amber has decided that she is going back to school for something somewhat related to that, but not really.
- She has been working different roles; none of which have anything to do with her Diploma
- She’s about to spend $35,000 plus living expenses, by going back to school for the next 5 years. That’s a ton of additional debt to take on.
- Her new chosen career doesn’t pay all that much.
- Amber lives with her boyfriend, and plans on working part-time during school.
Now Amber made the mistake of meeting me for brunch on a day where I was feeling particularly honest, and I started questioning her about her future. I tend to do that these days because a) I’m nosey, and b) because working with developers all day has taken a toll on my conversational skills. Anyway, Amber informed me about her plans to go back to school, and I flat out told her I didn’t think it was the best of ideas.
Here are my reasons:
- There is a growing demand for nutritionists, particularly holistic ones. She is lucky to be in a position where she has her Diploma, and can capitalize on the growing demands before the field get saturated. I recognize that there are some fields where the need to upgrade your degree is significantly higher. That’s not the case here. I knew that Amber had done initial research in the field, and agreed with my assessment, but I researched the field a big more after brunch just to make sure that I wasn’t wrong.
- She has a mortgage already thus not working during school is not an option. Depending on the job that she gets, she will need to work anywhere before 25-30 hours a weeks to be able to cover her half of the bills while going back to school. Not doing so will cause a strain on the relationship. I’ve seen this far too many times.
- She doesn’t need the degree, she’s doing it because she likes the idea of school.
- The opportunity cost of her going back to school is at least $200, 000 perhaps even more. Not to mention having to start from the bottom up when she graduates thus missing out on all potential raises during that time.
As I mentioned above, Amber is an intelligent woman, and sought the help of a career counsellor. Sadly, the counsellor was part of the university , and well, yeah.
I asked her if she was interested in Holistic Nutrition as a career as she said she was, but was afraid of starting her own business, or finding/creating a job in that field. While I understand that being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, I know working for a clinic and learning the ropes will help her gain the confidence that she needs. I really, really tried not to stress my point because I am known to be wrong once in a while, but I wholeheartedly believe that going back to school is not the best of idea for her.
What are your thoughts? What advice would you give her?