Ask a College Advisor: Should I Tell My Employer That I’m Going Back to College?

Get some tips from one of our education professionals on if — or how — you should tell your employer that you are going back to college.

portrait of Lonnie Woods III
by Lonnie Woods III

Published April 14, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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Ask a College Advisor: Should I Tell My Employer That I’m Going Back to College?
Image Credit: Marko Geber / DigitalVision / Getty Images

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.

Summary

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.

Have a Question About College?

In our Ask a College Advisor series, experienced advisors provide an insider look at the college experience by answering your questions about college admissions, finances, and student life.


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.


BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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