Tap into your network. Check with friends, family, and co-workers. They may have contacts who are alumni or current students at the schools you’re interested in. They can tell you if a school is a good fit before you take the leap. Also ask them for information about scholarships, internships, or loans; searching online is a good idea, too. “I was lucky enough to have a few co-workers who had their master’s degrees and went to schools in the area. They recommended the Medical University of South Carolina; then I did my own research and saw that the program was comparable to others around the country. You don’t want to rush a decision this important,” says Murray.
Stay motivated. Graduate degrees are not easy to acquire. There may come a time when you feel like throwing in the towel. Keep your eyes on your goal by forming or joining an academic support group at your school or online. Yahoo Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com) is a good place to start.
Seek a mentor. Let others know about your plan to go back to school and your desire to move up the ranks. Find someone in your field of study who can guide you and offer advice on how to get where you want to be in your career.
Ask for what you want. All the education in the world won’t make a difference if you don’t know how to use it to your advantage. Learn how to use your degree to advance your career and increase your earnings. If you think you deserve a raise or promotion, ask for it (and be ready to explain your reasons). It never hurts to try.
Further Reading: Wealth For Life Principles
1. I Will Live Within My Means
2. I Will Maximize My Income Potential Through Education and Training
3. I Will Effectively Manage My Budget, Credit, Debt, and Tax Obligations
4. I Will Save At Least 10% of My Income
5. I Will Use Homeownership as a Foundation For Building Wealth
6. I Will Devise An Investment Plan For My Retirement Needs And Childrens’ Education
7. I Will Ensure That My Entire Family Adheres To Sensible Money Management Principles
8. I Will Support the Creation and Growth of Minority-Owned Businesses
9. I Will Guarantee My Wealth Is Passed On To Future Generations Through Proper Insurance And Estate Planning
10. I Will Strengthen My Community Through Philanthropy
—Additional reporting by Sheiresa McRae
This article originally appeared in the August 2009 issue of Black Enterprise Magazine.