Go Back to School or Freelance? Which One is Better for You?

In the lives of many freelancers or would-be freelancers, there usually comes a point when they ask themselves if they should continue trudging on in the freelance world or just go back to school. The question itself can be a challenging struggle that forces you to organize your priorities in your career and life.

Here’s how this argument usually breaks down. Since freelancing is, definitely at the very beginning, an irregular job that can make it difficult to bring home consistent earnings, some say that going back to school provides you with a more “secure” foundation for your career.

The freelancing proponents will say that freelancing just takes time and efficient marketing and networking. Then, you could be on your way to a career that pays well and provides way more freedom and independence than a regular 9-to-5 job.

What the Stats Say

Okay, so you’re in between going back to school and freelancing. What do you do? Let’s take a look at some statistics to present you with the trend of where things are headed and the pros and cons of each decision.

The trend currently is that more and more people will go to freelancing. Clearly, if things are going in this direction, that’s because a lot of people see the benefit in it. According to Forbes, more than 33% of American workers now qualify as freelancers, and guess what? That trend is only going to get stronger, as, by 2020, 40% of Americans will be freelancers! It seems that, every year, people are getting fed up with the 9-to-5 grind and realizing that freelancing can give them the flexibility and earning power they want.

On the other hand, let’s look at going back to school. The philosophy with going to school is that getting a degree means more earning power during your lifetime, and that’s certainly true, as studies have shown. However, that’s only over a lifetime, which is spread out over a very long time. The immediate cost of going back to school, however, is debt: According to Time, today’s average college grad leaves school with a degree and a whole lot of debt, almost $30,000 worth, to be exact. Oh, and this debt has only been climbing in recent years!

It’s All About How Much You Can Make

The reason people, of course, struggle between going back to school and freelancing is they want to increase their quality of life by earning more money. That’s what it’s all about, so we’re going to look at how much money you could conceivably make as a successful freelancer.

If you’re a freelance writer, for instance, it’s not unheard of for you to possibly make as much as $70 an hour. Heck, one freelance writer has even detailed how she’s able to pull in $250 an hour! Yes, that’s after years of networking, building up a solid portfolio and learning on the job, but it is possible. It goes without saying that that can provide a comfortable life, for sure.

How about freelance web developers, who work in another huge freelance niche? It’s entirely possible to rake in as much as $85,000 per year. Of course, this is with the logical caveat that this is after working for a few years, making industry contacts, building up your portfolio and gaining more and more experience.

Still, as you can see, freelancing can turn into something quite lucrative!

Sometimes, It’s Your Current Situation

No matter how much you want something for your career, sometimes, your situation’s going to have to dictate what you do next.

If, for instance, you have a young family and you need to make some cash fast, then freelancing is the better option for you, even if you have to start taking assignments that are far from your dream beat. If you only need to work part-time to make ends meet—maybe you’re single and live on your own—then going back to school is certainly something you can free up hours for.

Ultimately, only you can tell what’s really suitable for your situation.

To Freelance or Not to Freelance

Simply put, freelancing is an unconventional route that offers the promise of you being your own boss. Don’t expect to get there easily or quickly, though, but it’s still possible if you put in the work. Conversely, going back to school is the so-called “safer” route that many people fall back on if they don’t like their present careers.

So what’s it going to be? Are you going to strike out on your own and chase your freelance dreams or take the traditional route of going back to school…because you want to play it safe? Only you can make that decision!

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