Many managers, at 25, 30, or even 40+, aspire to return to adult education while continuing to work. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 33% of the 18 million undergraduate students in the US are over the age of 25, and 22% are over the age of 30. From 2010 to 2020, the NCES projects a rise of 20% in enrollments of students 25 and over. Whether for acquiring new skills, securing a higher salary, or retraining, professional distance learning quickly sets itself apart as the ideal solution. Before you sign up, read on to discover our 8 tips for professionals going back to school.
Review your professional development plan
What is pushing you to consider returning to education? What are your core aspirations? Before throwing yourself into an exciting new plan, it is essential to visualise your post-training path. Do you intend to change role within your current company, or to join a new organisation? Do you see yourself setting out on a new entrepreneurial venture? No matter your plans, it is important to take time to reflect and to discuss your project with those around you, whether your work colleagues or your personal network.
A graduate of an Online Management Program course shares her motivations for returning to education:
“I had been working as a financial advisor for an online bank for 11 years. I had taken a slightly unusual route to get there, learning on the job, which prevented me from progressing to the supervisory post that I was interested in. I was determined to take my career to the management level and I used that momentum to apply for the Manager programme (Management Development Programme, master’s level).”
Take stock of your skills
Whether you are envisioning augmenting your current responsibilities or a more radical change, it is a good idea to review the skills that you will need to succeed in your target career. Which do you have already, and which do you still need to acquire? Taking inventory may not be simple, yet it is vital when it comes to choosing the right course. It may be helpful to undergo a skills assessment before making a decision.
When you have a short-list of course options, you can contact the professional training body to check course content and expected skills-learning outcomes.
At EDHEC, our admissions staff can offer advice regarding your professional development plan. They will use your CV to carefully study your career path and offer an introductory interview to ensure that your plan is a good fit with our online continuing education programmes for professionals.
Talk to your manager and to your colleagues who have gone back to school
While making any decision, get some advice from your manager about how your executive education project will contribute to the company success. You might be surprised your manager will contribute to your project. Moreover, discussing with colleagues who have experienced continuing professional education will help you to get a clearer idea of your training project and give you an insight on both positive and negative aspects of it.
Choose the programme that works for you
This is undoubtedly the key step to successfully preparing for a return to adult education, a serious move which involves choosing a course which corresponds both to your professional development plan and to your way of life and personal pace.
The good news is that professional training has progressed significantly in recent years, adapting to the needs of managers within the increasingly mobile workforce. EDHEC has developed its programmes and broken new ground with new distance learning programmes, whether 100% online.
“With the help of digital tools, participants are free to choose their own working pace and to organise their learning strategies. This is the strength of our teaching, based on interaction, collective intelligence, and coaching.”
Stefan CRISAN, EDHEC Online Director of Operations
Speak with programme faculty, not just admissions advisors
Once you have identified your future training programme, it is important to reach out to additional members of the programmes. For instance, at EDHEC Online, we organize each month a webinar with the programme director that enables you to get much more detailed information and a better sense of how a programme is structured.
Align your school work with your career work
During you training programme you will be challenged to produce papers, studies, presentations or even original research. Retain this work, especially anything that is related to your field, it might be handy for new career opportunities.
Get your family onboard
Returning to school is a big commitment for an adult who already has other commitments: family, job, social life… It is important to accept that you will not be able to be 100% committed as you are in all aspects of your actual life. You will have to cut down, temporally, on your other commitments. Get your family onboard by being frank about the sacrifices necessary in the short term will help you dealing with that. Invite them to help you resolve the issue of how to find time to study. It will be a huge source of support during your training.
Develop a professional network with your classmates
One of the best advantages of executive education is learning from your classmates from other industries. Don’t be shy, getting to know your classmates and professors (even online) will expand your network and help you build your professional development plan.