Maybe you’ve just graduated, you’re about to graduate, or you have a few years of work under your belt and now you’re considering graduate school. You’re probably not the only one asking, “is graduate school right for me?” In recent years, staggering job market influenced a lot of new and upcoming college graduates to consider graduate school or unemployment as their only options. Keep in mind that a graduate degree alone does not entitle you to a job. It is important that you weigh all of your options before you make the decision to go to graduate school.
Don’t rush the decision or take it lightly. Spend some time contemplating your interests, career and life goals, and strengths and weakness. During this time, be honest with yourself to avoid becoming regretful or overwhelmed later. If you go with the graduate school route, you could be looking at anywhere between 2 to 10 more years of schooling. Some things to consider:
- Commitment: Are you tired of school and dreading class every single day? It’s highly possible that you are, but think about whether or not your opinion toward class will ease between now and when your graduate classes would start. If you are planning to put off grad school for this reason alone, but you know you want graduate school in your future, you may want to push forward with schooling.
- Cost analysis: While the cost of attendance will vary from one place to another and change based on your residency, graduate school is costly. On the other hand, it’s an investment. If you don’t know if you can afford it, if you’ll be seeking financial aid, or if you just prefer a budget-friendly investment, keep in mind that public universities are less expensive. If you will need financial aid, look into this as you explore graduate programs and institutions – what funding do they offer?
- Picking a program: Think about your interests (and career goals). Is there a program that lines up with those things? Can you identify those things well enough to even look at programs?
- Career consideration: What are your ambitions? Some career paths will require the additional schooling; others may not, but might offer a higher salary to someone with a higher degree.
This is just a brief overview of the things to consider. Other questions that you may want to ask yourself:
- Are you academically prepared to apply to graduate school? Do you need to improve your GPA, test scores, or study skills?
- Are you personally prepared for life in graduate school? (With finances, time management, self-discipline, etc.)
With all of that said, graduate school is a worthwhile investment once you make the decision to go. You will have the opportunity to take courses that directly correlate to your interests, instructors who are thoroughly experienced in the material that they are teaching, research opportunities galore, chances to influence your community through your studies, and the background and experience necessary to succeed in your career pursuits.
So, give it some time and thought. Next week, I’ll cover “Choosing an Institution”.