students sitting and petting a dog

Grad School: Is it Right For You?

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

After you graduate, you may go straight into your first “real” job, take some time to travel or figure out your next move, or go to graduate school. Sometimes, you may make one of these decisions and then realize it was the wrong one. If, for example, you take a job and then realize you should have gone to grad school, what should you do?

Well, go to grad school if you’re sure it’s what you want to do. Here’s what you should consider before making your decision.

  1. Are you absolutely sure grad school is what you want? Grad school is never the right answer if you don’t like what you’re currently doing or don’t know where to go next. It’s a major financial and time commitment that’s not for those not seriously interested. Look at course syllabi and program requirements. If they don’t interest you, grad school, or at least that program, is probably not best for you.
  2. What goals do you have? Your undergraduate education is the time to explore your interests. Grad school is not. The programs are short and focused, and if you don’t know what you want and don’t use your time to achieve a specific set of goals, you’ll be wasting time and money.
  3. Once you know what your goals are, make sure you can realistically achieve them. Ask yourself if you can complete what the program requires, but also ask alumni from your program if they felt supported and got what they needed. Sometimes, you have to go beyond the marketing materials.
  4. Look beyond the degree. What do you want to do after you get your graduate degree? Are you sure you actually need that level of degree to do what you want to do? And if you don’t know what you want to do, grad school is an expensive place to try and figure it out.
  5. Finally, can you afford it? How are you going to pay for it? And ultimately, is the graduate degree worth all that money to you? Will it pay itself off in the long run or will you graduate swimming in even more debt than you already are?

Grad school is not an impulse decision. You need to consider all factors and be very honest with yourself. If you’re anything like me, I’d like to be a college student for the rest of my life…but that’s not a very good reason to go to pursue a Master’s. Think of graduate school as an investment in yourself. You don’t want to make a bad investment, right? Then do your homework, and if you choose to go, get ready for a whole lot more.

Sources: The Muse