How to convince your boss to let you go back to school
Further education does not just benefit the student. Acquiring knowledge can benefit families, society at large and if you are already employed, in most cases, employers benefit from this greatly as well. So whether you are 25 or 55, going back to school as an adult will never be a bad choice.
An article by the Harvard Business Review confirmed this. An analysis of over 1200 young achievers (30-something managers) revealed that employers generally satisfied their need for increased responsibility and promotion opportunities.
What exactly are the rewards of going back to school as a working adult? Firstly, work experience will make learning all the more seamless. Professors usually prepare students by asking them to share their methods of handling situations on the job, and as someone who already has the experience, you will have an advantage.
Apart from that, furthering your education will enhance your competencies, improve your employment outlook, advance your existing career, grow your professional network, and furthermore, older students have more options such as online courses, professional certifications, or doctoral programmes. These reasons and more are why the percentage of students over 25 who go back to school to pursue higher education will increase over the next ten years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Once you’ve made your decision and found a programme that is fully in-line with your goals, the next step to check off your list will be to convince your boss to allow it. The conversation might be tough to have, but with the right preparation, you should be able to persuade them. Here’s how you can convince your boss to let you head back to school:
Do your research
It is important to know your company culture and the policies that are set in place before requesting to go back to school. Start by speaking to HR and find out what the current policies allow. Here’s what you should ask:
- Has anyone else in the company done anything similar?
- What does the company consider part-time?
- What types of arrangements are available?
- Could you work 10-hour days?
- Could you job-share?
- What options are available for flex time?
- Does your job allow you to work from home or be on call nights and weekends?
These are all questions you’ll want to have the answers to before you make your pitch.
Also, research relevant statistics can help you greatly. For example, if you want to work three 10-hour days, you may want to mention research that shows employees who work longer hours but fewer days per week are more productive. Or, if you propose job-sharing, you’ll want to be prepared with statistics and case studies that show how this can benefit the employer.
Assess your current role
Break down the functions of your current position. List down your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to identify which of these tasks can be shared, delegated or eliminated. This list will also help you determine if there are tasks that could be better handled by another department.
Assess your value
If you are a high-ranking employee, considered to be valuable with a proven track record of working hard and achieving positive results, you will be more likely to get a good response from your boss.
Assessing your value should mean asking yourself questions about your current work situation. Ask yourself how your managers would rate your job performance, whether they would say it is average, adobe average or outstanding. You could also look back at the results of your last performance review to identify what skill gaps your boss highlighted. By doing this, you will be able to show your boss how education can help you close these gaps.
Redefine your existing role
Spend time visualising your new role and prepare answers to the questions your boss might have.
Their concerns might be in regards to job-sharing, communication, what your new hours might be, how accessible you will be, and how much exactly your choice will cost the company.
Highlight the benefits
It is important to emphasise the interests of the company, showing it’s not just about you, but the progression of the organisation as a whole.
- Performance – Mention how training will allow you to strengthen the skills you need to improve while bringing benefits to your team who will be able to leverage your skills and knowledge level. This will better enable teamwork and your performance as a contributor
- Confidence – With many sectors going through fundamental changes, you should bring up how training will keep you on the cutting edge of industry developments and help you get up to date on the latest and most effective trends and techniques
- Retention – Present to your boss evidence of how talent is an increasingly precious resource in modern and competitive markets. Mentions how useful training serves as a key retention tool