One of the things I’ve been saving for is tuition fee for graduate school overseas. I didn’t want to study at just any school but a reputable business school that will enhance my future career prospects. I read Economics for my undergraduate degree and upon graduating decided to embark on the exciting prospects marketing and sales had to offer with special emphasis on brands.
However, I have held back from studying overseas because I wasn’t too sure if it was right to resign, wait and save more money without risking everything or look at the possibilities of distance based studies. If you’re in my shoes and thinking of going to graduate school, you may consider these options as outlined in MSN Money Article, which I’ve reviewed.
The article states that more people in their late twenties, thirties and forties are taking a mini-retirement to pursue other interests such as international travel, volunteering or going back to school. Taking time off from work may be the only way to pursue these dreams. This I totally agree with because the earlier I do this, the earlier I can pursue other interests.
A leave of absence is usually better than outright resignation – if you’ve read my article on Performance Review – How to maximize your raise, you’d have read through the criteria for becoming a top performer. If you’re a top performer in your workplace, it is advisable to negotiate for a leave of absence rather than resigning. However, bear in mind that most employers fill up vacant positions. Besides, if you come back to your old workplace after graduate school, bear in mind that your old position may no longer be available and you may have to work in a temporary position while a new role is being carved out for you. Otherwise, attend as many graduate recruitment fairs to peruse available offers from prospective employers.
Accept that it’s going to cost you – this I totally agree with. Unless your employer pays you for the sabbatical time you’ll be absent from work, you’re going to have to take unpaid leave (this is applicable to most Nigerian employers). It’s better to have a financial plan in place that will take care of tuition fees, accommodation, part time employment and other living expenses. I usually advise prospective graduate applicants to look out for schools that will offer partial scholarships.
Figure out how much it’s going to cost you – planning for graduate school is a Herculean task when you consider the financial costs involved. You need to have a total breakdown of the tuition fees, living expenses, study materials and field trips or internships depending on the course you’re studying. Inefficient planning leaves us at our wits end and we end up in a tight financial corner. If you’re not coming back to your old workplace, add three months for job-hunting upon your return.
Find the money – make a list of all your assets, including any non-financial assets you may wish to sell. If you’re selling some of your investments, remember to deduct broker’s commission and tax deductions. If you take money out of your savings, remember to leave at least three months of living expenses upon your return. You may also decide to ask for a parental loan and agree with your parents on repayment plans.
Make exit and entrance plans – if you’re going to graduate school, give your employer at least a minimum of three months so that an adequate replacement can be found for your present role. Yes, you are going to end up with less money than you had, but the most important thing is to plan appropriately for this time off from work so you don’t end up regretting your choice for further education.