Do You Really Need a Second Bachelor’s Degree?

If you’re reading this, you might be thinking about getting a second bachelor’s degree.

Perhaps you think that it may help you to get a better job. Or get you promoted.

Maybe you just regret getting your first bachelor’s degree in a field that you are not interested in after all, and want to fix it.

Or do you simply feel stuck and hope that getting a second Bachelor’s Degree will lead you to new insights?

Think twice before you decide to get a second bachelor’s degree. Getting another degree is not always the best solution to achieve your goals. While there are some cases where getting a second bachelor’s degree is absolutely necessary, in many cases it is a waste of time, money, and effort. Before you get a second bachelor’s degree, make sure that it is really necessary. And if it’s not, at least have clarity about the reasons why you’re getting it and what you’re hoping to achieve.

The best decision is situation-specific.

There are 5 common situations in life, which can prompt people to get a second bachelor’s degree. You might find yourself in one of these situations.

For each situation or challenge faced, I want to give my 5 cents on whether or not it makes sense to get a second bachelor’s degree.

Time that you will never get back and that you could’ve spent on doing other, more productive things.

In some cases, getting a second bachelor’s degree will catapult you to your dream career. In other cases, it is completely unnecessary and a waste of your most valuable resource, time.

1. Changing Careers

You might dread the career you’re in now and want to make a drastic change.

If you studied architecture and now want to become a lawyer, then yes, you obviously need to get a second Bachelor’s degree. The same goes for many other careers which are mostly in the STEM fields.

There are obvious careers that are highly regulated, for which a corresponding degree or education is usually indispensable.

You’ll not be able to work as a Psychotherapist, Dentist, or Vet, without having a suitable bachelor’s degree.

However, there are many careers that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, but simply an associate degree, a certification or a license. These include careers such as landscaping, web development, certain therapist and technician jobs, nursing, and others.

Then there are plenty of other careers for which the requirements are very loose. In many cases, no degree is needed at all.

If you want to start your own graphic design business, you don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or visual arts. Unless you place a high value on learning the theoretical aspects of graphic design.

Likewise, to start a career in filmmaking, you do not have to go to film school.

Of course, there are advantages of going to film school or getting a bachelor’s degree in visual arts.

You’ll benefit from the structured lesson plan, having mentors you can turn to for advice, and building a network of connections in the respective industry.

But it is not absolutely necessary.

If you are a self-starter, you can find mentors and build connections on your own. In many careers such as writing, filmmaking, design, and entrepreneurship, it is your work and creation that matters most.

In many fields, no one will care about your degree. Your ability to create a product or service that is of value, will trump any degree that you have or not have.

So before you decide to get a second Bachelor’s degree, make sure that it is absolutely necessary for your career change.

2. Working on a promotion or trying to stay competitive

In order to get promoted to a certain position, you might think that you need a second Bachelor’s degree.

Perhaps you have hit a ceiling in your current career because you lack knowledge in a field, and need to cement your authority with a degree.

Let’s say that you’re an SVP Marketing at a Bank, and you have 10 years of experience in Marketing. You have a long list of accomplishments and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. You’ve had enough of Marketing and are now vying for the position of Head of Human Resources.

In a world of no competition, if you were the sole candidate, it is not impossible that you could get that promotion. But in reality, you are competing against many other candidates who might have a more suitable background than you.

Promotions, especially in the higher ranks are not straight forward at all. There are oftentimes no hard and fast rules for promotions. Having a second degree in human resources management might give you a leg-up when competing with other candidates.

In cases such as this one, it is crucial that you really take the time to find out whether it is absolutely necessary to get a second Bachelor’s degree. Try to find out what your chances are to get that promotion, without a second degree.

Is there a good chance that you can get the promotion without the typical education? Is it possible that you can be promoted to the position you want based on your practical experience in the field?

Perhaps, over your 10, 15 years of work you’ve accumulated equivalent knowledge and experience related to HR that might compensate for the lack of a degree in that field?

The only way to find out is by talking with the people involved in the decision.

Don’t guess.

How about if you’re not aiming for a specific promotion, but are just trying to stay competitive by piling up on degrees? After all, it’s a wonderful feeling to get approving nods from people who hear for the first time that you have 2 Bachelor’s Degrees and one PhD.

Please think long and hard before you make a decision.

Is it really worth the money and the time? Think about the opportunity costs: What will you be missing out on in the meantime? What will you gain from your second studies? Is it comparable to the progress that you could’ve made in your career?

Start with the end in mind.

If your ultimate goal is getting promoted, find out if getting another bachelor’s degree is absolutely necessary, or whether you can do without.

 

3. About to graduate and don’t want to leave school just yet

I hear a lot of people in forums and on youtube considering to get a second bachelor’s degree when they’re just about to finish their first degree.

I get it. School can be fun.

Your sole responsibility and burden are to study and get good grades. Plus, if you are not among the lucky ones who are financially supported by their parents, you need to work a part-time job on the side.

But apart from that, there are no real responsibilities.

You have a rather flexible lifestyle, get to wake up late rather often, and simply enjoy the student life. There is no real risk apart from failing your classes.

After graduation, we face the reality of life. Kicked out of the cozy and safe nest which is University, we need to look for a job and start working.

More often, our first job is not our dream job. Instead of working on super interesting projects, oftentimes our first job includes a lot of admin and routine tasks.

Except if you start off as Management Trainee as I did, but that is a story for another time.

A lot of young students, once they graduate, have no clue where they want to work. Even worse, you might realize that the Bachelor’s degree that you’ve worked so hard for isn’t what you really wanted.

You’ve realized, a tad too late, that you never really wanted to study accounting. Or engineering, or whatever.

But now you feel stuck with that degree.

You feel that having spent so much time and effort on it, the next logical step is to find a job in a related industry.

So I can totally understand that many students who are about to graduate, don’t feel that enthusiastic about starting working life.

Are you doubting the choices you made with your first degree? Are you perhaps not excited about starting your career in a related field?

In that case, continuing school, getting a second Bachelor’s degree might seem like an easy way out.

“I just need to repeat this whole thing again but with in the field that I actually want, and everything will be fine”

There are two scenarios that I want to address.

Let’s say that for some reason you are absolutely certain that you don’t want to work in a field related to your degree. For example, you studied medicine, and then in the last year, it dawned on you that there is no way that you want to work as a Doctor.

In the first case, you just went through a series of events that made you realize that you want to be a lawyer instead. You are absolutely sure beyond doubt that this is what you want to do.

In this case, if you can afford it financially and are willing to put in all the hours, then it makes sense if you want to rectify this situation by continuing school.

In the second case, you are not certain yet what you want.

And this is a very common scenario! Many students who just finished their first degree feel uncertain about the choice that they made.

They just feel lost.

They don’t know what they want in terms of a career. But they know for sure that they don’t want to work in a career related to their degree.

If you belong to this group of people, then please don’t make a rash decision to get a second Bachelor’s degree.

Don’t rely on finding your passion, or finding out what your dream career is, by pursuing a second education.

The best way to find out what career is suited to you is by working on it directly. Leave your school, go out, and just start a job.

Most people will have multiple jobs and multiple careers throughout their lives.

Taking a job that is not ideal is not a life sentence.

Taking any job, just starting and exploring hands-on, is what will enable you to chart your career path. Step by step. Through experimentation, trial and error.

Start your first job, learn from it, find out what you like about it and what you hate about it. Pivot and find out what career you want to pursue. This process often takes a long time.

Once you have clarity, once you know what you want, you are ready to make that decision about a second Bachelor’s degree.

You can always go back to school again later. But first do get some experience working in the real world.

 

4. Pure thirst for knowledge

Some people just have a pure thirst for knowledge and love studying. I have a friend who has 3 Master’s Degrees.

If I had unlimited time and finances were no issue, I might go back to school and get a second bachelor’s degree myself.

But what are the opportunity costs? Even though you might get some credits acknowledged, you still need 2-3 years to earn a second Bachelor’s Degree.

You might really love English literature. Or french language. But do you really need to get a degree for that? Or is there an alternative to satisfy your craving to learn?

Is it possible that you might learn the language better and faster if you spend 1 year in France taking a french language course? Not to mention the cultural experience that you can only get by living in the country?

Thinking back to when I started filmmaking…If I could freeze time and take a four-degree course in filmmaking for free, then I might have done it! But since that is wishful thinking, I decided that jumping right into it will yield results much faster.

So instead of getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Filmmaking, I just went ahead and made 2 feature films.

Without any background in filmmaking.

And throughout the process, I’ve easily covered a big portion of a typical filmmaking curriculum.

Learning for the sake of learning is admirable. Just ask yourself if the mode of learning has to be studying at University, or if there are other more effective ways to achieve the same goal.

 

5. Just feel lost

To some people, this might sound like a stretch.

Getting a second Bachelor’s Degree just because someone is lost, or to fill a void?

This scenario is not as uncommon as you think.

There are people who simply feel lost in life. It might be a quarter-life or even a mid-life crisis that prompted the thought of going back to school.

“I will get a second Bachelor’s degree, reinvent myself, and everything will be fine”

And again, in this case, I will refer you to the first scenario in this blog post. If it is really necessary to make a career change, then go ahead.

But if not, ask yourself if you are really willing to go through the whole process again.

Have you forgotten how boring some lectures can be?

How frustrating group assignments are at times? Not to mention having to work with a lot of much younger, first-time students.

Is there a way to put your money, time, and energy to better use?

University is a routine, you know how it is. The curriculum and the syllabus. The textbooks and the theory. The countless assignments, quizzes, and perhaps a thesis. Easily spending $10-20k per term on tuition fees.

Why would you want to go through this again? You would need some pretty good reasons if you asked me.

Have you considered other options to reinvent yourself?

Perhaps by going on a 1-year sabbatical. Or taking 1-year post-graduate course or getting a certification. Changing industries. Spending more time on a hobby. Or starting an online business or become self-employed.

Think about what the ideal next phase in your life would look like. Take the $100k or so budget and the 2-4 years that you would have to spend on a second Bachelor’s degree and allocate it to the things I mentioned above.

Try to find a better alternative use for that money and time and see what you can come up with. You might be surprised to find what brilliant and interesting plan you might devise.

 

Which situation do you find yourself in right now?

After reading this, do you have a new perspective on whether it’s worth getting a second Bachelor’s degree or not?

If you haven’t decided yet, then take your time.

Don’t stop living while making big decisions in life.

Oftentimes, by immersing yourself in what’s immediately in front of you, you will come to the answer!

In case you’ve made your decision, what are your personal reasons?

 

 

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