Should I quit my job to study abroad?

7 years ago

My name is Ugodre Obi-Chukwu, i want to ask Waploaded This Question...


Some years back, a friend of mine was at a crossroads over whether to resign in a consulting firm to study abroad or to stay back and accept the tempting offer to be a partner in the firm. The decision was a catch 22 for him and he knew whatever decision he took had to pay off because if it did not, he would certainly be screwed.

Have you been in this type of situation before? Are you considering making that move because you haven’t been promoted lately?

Or perhaps there is an opening somewhere that you missed out on just because you don’t have a postgraduate degree? Well, you are probably not alone. Today, (like last week) we will look at considerations we need to make when faced with the choice of quitting your job for school.

What’s your end game?

Everything we do in life just has to have a purpose. For example, most people don’t realise the decision to go to the university to study chemical engineering is not because they want to become a Chemical Engineer but because they want to get a good paying job when they graduate. Thus the end game here is getting a good paying job even if it lands you in a bank. Same logic I believe applies with deciding to get a postgraduate degree. If you believe it is absolutely essential for your career development, then it becomes important irrespective of your condition. What you don’t want to do is quit your job as an investment banker to study abroad, only to come back home to work as front desk officer.

Is the course worth it?

I know a few people who travelled abroad to get a master’s degree only to come back and struggle to nail a good job down. A probable reason is that they went for a course that was no longer competitive.

Some years back, bagging an MBA was one sure way of fighting off competition and getting higher paying job. Now that nearly everyone in the job market has an MBA, having it is no longer a single critical edge in interviews. These days, the school where you get an MBA is probably more important than the MBA itself.

What are the alternatives?

Whilst a postgraduate qualification is an advantage, the type you get and its relevance to your profession or career path is even more important. For example, someone looking for a career in the investing world is perhaps better off with a CFA. People in the IT world would also be more relevant to the industry if they have an Oracle, Java, Microsoft or other relevant software certification. This also feeds into the “what’s your end game” question. You have to know what your career goal is to determine which course to study.

Can’t it be done in Nigeria?

It’s pretty easy for most people to abandon their jobs and run off abroad just to end up studying at a backyard college with little or no competitive edge.

Isn’t it better to look for a school in Nigeria where you can study the same course at a better environment and at a far cheaper cost? I know there are not many good postgraduate schools in Nigeria but the few we have can compete favourably with some schools abroad.

Can’t I combine it with work?

The critical opportunity cost of getting a postgraduate qualification is perhaps having to quit your job. Apart from missing out on a year or two work experience, you also don’t get paid and likely end up taking odd jobs just to augment. These days, there are loads of universities abroad who have set up online learning centres to cater for postgraduate students who will rather study remotely than study in the four walls of a brick and mortar university. Online learning is a huge market now and has attracted millions of students around the world due to its flexibility. Combining work with school is also achievable if you work and school in the same town or even the same country.

Do I have the funds?

After you tick all the boxes above, the next step is to find out how much this will cost you. You need to find out the right schools, tuition, accommodation, feeding, transport, medical insurance fees etc. You don’t want to embark on such a mission without knowing how much it will cost you. After getting an idea of the cost, you check if you have the money to fund it.

Whilst you really don’t need to have the full money front end, you should have a plan and a backup plan that show you just how you intend to fund it. If you have a family or dependents, then your plan must include how you intend to cater for their needs while you are away. Many have travelled to school only to come back home to a broken family.

What do I get in return?

Like I tell most of my readers, as an employee, you always have to look at yourself as an investment. Every kobo you spend on improving yourself has to earn something in return. This is why it matters to go to the right school and/or do the right courses that ensure your payback is multifold.

What is your experience like?

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