1. you do not mention what you are going to school to get your degree in and how long will it take you to get the degree while working fulltime? The answer to this might make a difference in how your department processes this news.
2. Has anyone else that you know of your department or previous employees been in the same situation and how was that news handle once it became public knowledge? If it was welcomed news, then I would not hesitate to tell my supervisors. If not welcomed news or this employee was given an hard time then delay spreading the news. If no past history, maybe test the waters with a balloon such as ask supervisors over lunch or a coffee break what they thought of that school or some how brooch the subject to see what they would think if someone were to do that in your department. You might say a friend or relative was thinking about it and was wondering if they should say anything about it at work and as supervisor what would you advice them to do.
3. You probably will eventually have to tell your supervisor or supervisors because there is going to be a conflict in schedules between work and school that you will have to take time off or work different hours to attend a class or work on a class project.
4. It is hard to keep a secret so you will be on pins and needles until the word gets out.
5. Once you tell your supervisor, you need to be able to tell them where your priorities are. They are going to want to know that you will still show up to work and that going to school is not going to efffect your work performance.
Except possibly for extenuating circumstances (I can't think of any), I would go ahead and tell your supervisor. Apparently, you work around plenty of college educated people, so I don't see why there would be any resistance. Exercising initiative and seeking to improve oneself is not typically frowned upon in most company environments.
Although I have taken plenty of college courses over the years while working for various companies, the companies always provided tuition assistance, so there was obviously a reason the company needed to know if you wanted to get their financial assistance. In my case, the companies I worked for considered additional education as benefiting the company provided it was somewhat related to your job, even if in a peripheral sort of way. However, they would not pay for something like a basket weaving course. (If I were taking something like that, I wouldn't tell.)
In your situation, it appears your company does not offer financial assistance. Nevertheless, the educational principle is the same. You're exercising initiative and improving yourself, and since the company is not paying, they shouldn't be too concerned about what you're taking your classes in provided it doesn't interfere with your work.
Good luck and best wishes!
The previous replies are great Thomas. I'm curious, does your current employer have any sort of Tuition Reimbursement Program? If so, can you use that program to have them pay for your school? Most organizations want their staff to develop their skills and pursue higher education. So I don't see a reason not to communicate your intention, especially if there is the potential to have them pay for it. Best wishes.
Thanks for all the great replies. To answer the question about tuition reimbursement, no they don't. After all, this is a county government entity that I work for and as far as I know, they have never offered it.
This degree could definitely help since it is in Management, so that should not be a problem.
I really wish they did Paul. I have checked into it and it was shot down a few years ago by county commissioners. We actually have even had lay offs, so it looks like I will be on my own as far as financing college. Another county I worked for in the 80's and 90's had it and I was able to take advantage of it there which was very nice.
Thanks for the encouragement and support.
I would only tell them if they offered tuition reimbursement, otherwise NO. The only people I'd tell are the people closes to me outside the office. I’m 45 as well and am also taking classes this fall but mine are paid for and offered to me by my employer. In my case they know because they offered. I’m hoping this will motivate me to continue and finish getting my Bachelors. And no, I will not tell them I'm taking any more courses.
I'm guessing you want to "Move On" and use your education to get a better position. It sounds like from you description that there is no room for advancement. That is why I'd not tell them.