Is Grad School the Right Option for You?

More often than they should, students decide to go to grad school simply to avoid the doomed job market.  Others choose to go because they flat out miss being in school.  Neither of these are logical reasons and in the end, they usually won’t leave the student feeling fulfilled.

Graduate school is a very serious and big commitment that should only be undergone if a graduate degree is definitely what you want and/or need.  There are several aspects of being a graduate student that may not be hitting you just yet as you scour admissions pages for application requirements and deadlines.  There are a few key questions you need to ask yourself that will determine whether or not you will fit in with these aspects of graduate student life.

Are you prepared to do the work?

This is not going to be like college.  College is hard, but graduate school will take over your life.  The heavy assignments and lengthy readings will roll through on a continuous loop, giving you very little free time.  Whatever your program may be, this level of education is no easy process.  There’s a reason people are so impressed by those who hold a Master’s or a Ph.D.  Earning those degrees takes extremely hard work, drive, and absolute dedication.  You cannot breeze through grad school; only enter if you are ready to be a seriously devoted and studious individual.

Is this really going to help your career?

Sometimes, graduate school may be a necessary step to take in solidifying your career path.  Certainly, aspiring doctors and lawyers need to go through with this, many business students are recommended to go after their MBA, professors need these degrees, etc.  But when you’re a marketing student, or a journalist, or a psychology major, is this something you really need?  Granted, more education is always a good thing and will only make your resumé look better – but in some fields, getting into the workforce solely with an undergrad degree and then working your way up is common.  Although the economy is currently making this difficult, it still should not be overlooked how much grad school may not be crucial for your specific professional future.  If it’s not going to make that huge of a difference in the long run, you might as well keep pushing through the job search now rather than locking yourself in a lengthy program and having to start all over in another few years.

Is now the right time?

Maybe grad school is a good option for you.  But is it a good option right now?  It’s totally understandable to want the instant gratification of having a plan and doing something for your career immediately.  After graduating college, it’s natural to feel a little lost and nostalgic for the school environment.  Put that on top of not being able to land a full-time job and it’s no wonder you want to jump right into this.  However, you need to stop and contemplate your overall goals, as well as what is required to accomplish each of them.  For many fields, it is common practice for students to work – or intern, or take advantage of whatever opportunity you can find – for a few years directly out of school and then proceed to attend graduate school.  Get some experience to make yourself look even better to those universities.  You might enjoy a break from the work-life to go back to school, more than you would enjoy racing back right now after leaving so recently.  Give yourself some time to figure out what it is you actually want and then be fair to yourself by not wasting a good opportunity on a time that doesn’t fit it.

This goes without saying, but one last thing to think about is that graduate school demands a lot of your money.  Is this something you can afford?  Will this put you in even more debt that will make your life harder later? Put a lot of thought into this as well as all of the aforementioned questions before you jump on the grad school bandwagon.  Make an informed decision and not just an anxious one.