by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17
Going to grad school is an extensive commitment in terms of time, money, and hard work. It’s critical to begin with where you want to be in the long run, both professionally and personally. It’s important not to pursue an advanced degree to avoid getting a job or simply because you do well in school. It’s not just an extension of the undergraduate experience. It’s much more competitive and intensive.
- What are my long-term and short-term professional goals?
- Is grad school necessary for me to achieve these goals?
- Do I have the interest and ability to succeed in a graduate program?
- By going to grad school am I simply delaying my career planning and decision-making?
- Will my ultimate career potential outweigh the loss in earning potential and debt I will incur while in grad school?
- Will the time and money spent on a program translate into greater career mobility and financial possibilities?
- Am I willing to meet the extensive research, course work and major paper demands of another academic program?
- Would continuing education alternatives (certificates, vocational school, professional seminars, workshops) assist in achieving my goals?
Grad School: Now Or Later?
If you are interested in grad school, plan early in your college career to assure that you take appropriate prerequisite courses and that you are well prepared for admissions examinations. Work closely with academic and career coach to insure applications, essays, and recommendations are appropriate and as well presented as possible. Talk with faculty, staff, prospective employers, and students currently pursuing programs of interest in order to hear their perspectives on the advantages of immediate vs. delayed entry into grad school.
- Are you reasonably sure of your career goals, or is there a strong possibility you could change your mind after a taste of the working world?
- Would related work experience help to clarify ambiguous career goals?
- Is an advanced degree a pre-requisite for your chosen career?
- How much will your job and salary be enhanced by a graduate degree? A master’s degree almost always commands a higher yearly rate of pay.
- Do you have a strong GPA? Would work experience enhance your application credentials by offsetting mediocre grades or test scores? Some schools are just as interested in your work background as in your “numbers.”
- What are the direct and indirect costs of grad school? Include the cost of the program and books, living expenses, and loss of income.
- Is there a possibility that a future employer might pay for you to attend grad school?
Ultimately, it’s your decision. Weigh the pros and cons and know without a doubt that pursing a higher degree is what you want to do. The last thing you want is to regret what you did – or didn’t do.
Source: Career Collaborative