Ask a College Advisor: Should I Tell My Employer That I’m Going Back to College?
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Question: Should I tell my employer that I'm going back to college?
Answer: Assuming that you want to remain in the position, it's generally a good idea to share your academic plans with your employer — especially if your classes will impact your work schedule or your ability to perform at your optimal level.
You are not required to let your employer know that you are going back to college. However, it can be helpful to both you and your employer if you share your plans early enough so the proper accommodations can be made.
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How to Communicate With Your Employer
Making the decision to go back to school is an exciting career and educational choice. If you are employed, you may be wondering if you should share your new academic plans with your employer. Here are a few tips to help you decide if, how, and when to tell your employer that you are going back to college.
Assess how school might impact your work schedule
Going back to school requires time commitments — both in class and outside of class. So it is important to have a realistic understanding of how school may conflict with your work schedule. Make sure that you understand what additional time-consuming academic requirements your program may require. These can include homework, seminars, fieldwork, required internships, research, and lab courses that may take place during your work hours.
Decide if you want to share
If you decide not to tell your employer about your plans to return to school, consider the impact of them finding out independently or the possibility of your performance declining due to school. Being transparent may make it easier for your supervisor to have more empathy for your situation.
Informing your employer about your academic plans allows for a more honest work environment. It can also give you the opportunity to propose compromises that will make going back to school work for you and your employer.
Have a plan
Before you share your school news with your employer, create a plan. This plan should outline the anticipated impact of school on your job responsibilities — with suggested solutions. This shows your employer that you are proactive and serious about making them both work.
When you're ready, let your supervisor know at least a month in advance about your plan. This gives them time to make the adjustments needed to accommodate your new commitment.
Present school as a benefit
Emphasizing the positive impact of school on your performance at work can improve how this change is perceived. Point out the workplace benefits of this new degree. Explain how it will improve your understanding of your chosen field and help meet your company's goals.
Compromise and negotiate
If your employer is not enthusiastic about your return to college, be willing to negotiate the terms of your new schedule and commitments. Be firm yet open to alternative ways to manage schedule conflicts and any other impacts that going to school may have on your job responsibilities.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether to tell your employer that you are going back to college. Take some time to weigh the pros and cons of being transparent. But, remember that you have the right to your privacy, especially if your school commitments do not conflict with work.
DISCLAIMER: The responses provided as part of the Ask a College Advisor series are for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact a professional academic, career, or financial advisor before making decisions regarding individual situations.