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At one point or another, many of us have considered returning to school or remaining in school to obtain an advanced degree.

While there are many motivators to pursue an advanced degree, this is a big decision and needs to be evaluated carefully. Pursing an advanced degree is not the right choice for everyone and in some cases will not reward the perceived added value in the long run.

When considering the possibility to return to or remain in school take into consideration your long term career goals.

Does your field of expertise require a specialized, scientific or advanced business training in order to advance to the level of employment that you desire?

Will the achievement of completing your advanced degree help fulfill a personal goal?

How will the time and energy required to pursue advanced study impact your current work and personal life?

Is an advanced degree the only way to achieve your personal and professional goals?

What type of program will you excel in?

"When considering going back to school, it is important to consider how that degree will fit with your lifestyle," said Allen Featherstone, Kansas State University -Professor and Director of the Masters in Agribusiness program.

Regardless of what may be luring you to consider a graduate degree here are a few tips.

There are a number of excellent programs at universities across North America. However, most programs have a unique component that helps candidates determine the right fit. Research as much as possible! Ask for references or to speak with past program participants that you might talk to. There are several programs that are offered online - this can be a solution for those that are attending part-time, travel occasionally with their job, or live far from the campus.

"Everyone has their own preferred method of learning whether that be text based, lecture based, interactive or some other measure. Making sure that the program can fit your learning style will be important to your success," said Featherstone.

If your employer provides tuition reimbursement or if you plan to apply for financial aid, these often have deadlines and request forms that must be completed up to one year in advance. Many programs also require placement testing or prerequisite courses that are only offered at scheduled times. If your organization does not have tuition reimbursement set as a policy, you should still ask about the possibilities.

Make sure that you and your support system are committed to your decision. Attending school can be stressful and time consuming for anyone. Trying to do this while working part-time, which is often the case, can be very demanding. Knowing your goals and being surrounded by people who share your aspirations will be crucial to achieving success.

For a resource to explore different advanced degree programs, visit the "University Partners" page on For more information e-mail

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