Should you remain a student during a recession? Should you go back to school during an economic recession to upgrade your skills?
It has come to my attention that many people are nervous about going back to school during an economic recession. Some young adults have been forced to upgrade their skills by their company. Some young people have simply lost their jobs and are going back to school to learn new skills. Some are going back to school just to protect themselves and improve their income earning potential.
When happens when you’re going back to college/are a current student during a recession? What’s the deal?
“Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.” — Henry Peter Broughan
[Note: I originally published this article in 2009 during the recession. This piece has been updated in March 2020 for current times.]
Whatever the reason is that has you returning back to college in-person or online, there are a few things you should keep in mind. I was fortunate enough (I think) to be in college during everything that went down in 2008. This time around, I’m an adult with a mortgage and real life concerns.
I wanted to share some tips for everyone out there that is worried about going back to school during the current recession:
[Before you read this article you can watch the video below or you can check out my guide to getting the most out of college here.]
Forget about the recession and focus on knowing your stuff.
The good thing about being in college is that this is the best time in your life to ignore the real world. Your only goal is to get decent grades without missing out on the fun. College is the one time in your life where you don’t have to think about real life implications about your silly mistakes. You won’t be able to sleep in much when you’re in the workforce.
With that being said, your top priority as student during a recession should be to know what’s happening in your field.
Knowing your stuff doesn’t mean to cram at the last minute before exams or to memorize random facts. Knowing your stuff is the ability to transfer what you learn in college to the real world. It means to be able to apply key concepts instead of just memorizing the technical definition. Sure you can answer the question about equity investments correctly on your midterm but it won’t mean a thing if you don’t know how to apply it once you start working.
The goal is to actually know what’s going on in your field so that you can be a decent worker when you get a job one day.
Think of going back to school as “riding out the recession.”
There’s no telling when the economy will fully recover but hopefully times will be better by the time you complete college. A Studenomics reader that only wishes to go by as Scott, informed me in an email that he was using the recession as the perfect opportunity to obtain his Masters Degree. He couldn’t find work. He decided that he wouldn’t waste time so he started studying.
Whether you’re continuing your college education or going back to school after many years you should remember that upgrading your skills is a better option than struggling to find work in a stagnant industry.
Try to take advantage of the tools available to learn new skills.
These days you can’t just rely on your college for your skills. You can do plenty of learning online. Some of the best material is available for free online.
- What tools should you be taking advantage of as a student during a recession?
- Free courses available through other colleges. A few quick Google searches will help you find free courses.
- Podcasts in your field. Experts in your field are giving away their best advice in podcast. Listen on your walk to campus.
- YouTube tutorials. Do you want to do something after college? Do you want to start a side hustle? Check out some of the free tutorials that are available to you so that you can make money if there’s still a recession when you graduate.
Recession proof your career/education.
This will not be the final recession you ever experience in your life. If you find that your last career didn’t last just because the recession changed peoples spending habits, then maybe you need to find a more steady career.
If you want a recession proof career then you need to start by making sure your education is recession proof. Try doing some of the following as you study during a global recession:
- Get the highest grades you possibly can to ensure they don’t hold you back from finding the job you desire.
- Connect with your professors.
- Make friendships with other students.
- Take college programs that are in demand and have been in demand for many years.
The goal is to study something that will lead to work. I don’t know what your skills are or where you’re located. I would check out salary expectations in your area and then look at what career you may like.
Just be ready to work hard while you completely forget about the recession. You can use this time in college to focus on ensuring that you’re ready to land a job when you’re finally out of school.