Is Graduate School the Right Choice for You

The decision about whether or not you should attend graduate school is personal and depends on what your career goals are. For some jobs, an advanced degree is expected. For many others, however, it is not. If you are working in one of those fields, it can be challenging to decide if the time and investment are worthwhile. Like any decision, the easiest way to make your choice is to consider the pros and cons. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of returning to school can help you make the best choice for you. It is important, however, not to let the benefits and drawbacks be your only deciding factor. There are many other considerations you need to weigh, such as where you are in your career, what your lifestyle looks like now and how it may look in the future, and whether your current employer offers tuition reimbursement.

If you feel passionate about continuing your education, you should go for it, even if it doesn’t make the best sense. Likewise, if you are finishing your undergraduate degree and anxious to enter the job market, there is no reason to continue school at this point, even if you know you will probably return later. Regardless of where you are in life, there are some things you should think about when considering earning a graduate degree. One issue that is sure to be on your mind is how you will pay for this education. There are many options available. In addition to traditional grants and scholarships you may qualify for, if you visit here, private student loans can be used to cover any education-related expenses, including tuition, rent, and even childcare. These programs sometimes offer free tuition in certain instances. If you are interested in working as a teaching or research assistant, you can have your tuition waived as well as receive a small stipend. If you are currently employed, check with your employer. Many offer a certain amount of money as reimbursement for tuition expenses.

Starting Out

While you should not use a graduate degree to avoid real-life and risk becoming a professional student, there are benefits to settling into a program when the economy is struggling. These downturns typically pass after 18 months or so. When the economy is in an upswing, it is much easier to find work. If you are currently unemployed or underemployed, continuing your education can be a smart and strategic choice. Make sure you have a plan for employment after graduation, by choosing a degree program that looks like it will rebound well and utilizing assets provided by your schools, such as career placement help and internships.

Graduate school is rigorous, if you don’t enjoy the subject matter it can make it challenging to complete the required course work. If you are not ready to spend time researching program options, completing applications, taking the GRE, and asking for letters of recommendation, you may not be fully committed to the program. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you aren’t ready to take this step yet. Once you are fully committed you will probably find the program enjoyable, although stressful at times. You will need to become an expert at time management, particularly if you are working while attending school.

Boost Your Earnings

Whether through pivoting to a new job or through qualifying for a promotion, earning an advanced degree is a great way to increase your income. This increase in earnings is not a one-time situation, having a higher-level degree will qualify you for higher-earning positions throughout your working life. While increasing your earnings is a standard reason many people give for continuing their education, it should not be your only goal.

Increase Employment Options

Some careers require a master’s to advance. If you are interested in social work, psychology, and some areas of healthcare, for example, you are limited in the scope of what you can do without a higher-level degree. While you may not feel constrained initially, you will probably find that you want to continue your education at some point. Of course, you do not have to stay in your existing career once you earn your degree. Many people use this opportunity to transition into a new career. If you can gain admittance to the graduate program of your choice with your existing degree, switching careers by earning a master’s allows you to enter the field at a higher than entry-level position, as well as showcase your interest and passion to prospective employers.

Provide Opportunities to Conduct Research

Participating in research allows you to take a deep dive into particular subject areas. Whether you are interested in conducting original research or helping with ongoing projects, a graduate program opens the door for you to do so. You will also have access to advanced equipment and projects. This access is necessary for you to do your work, but it is also a great learning tool and can reinvigorate your interest.

Allows You to Teach

Not everyone wants to teach, but if it is something that interests you, an advanced degree is a tool to get there. Whether you are interested in working at a community college or a university, earning a master’s or Ph.D. is a necessary first step.

Sharpen Your Skills

If you have been out of school for a while and you are considering returning, one unexpected benefit may be sharpening your skills. You have your duties at work, and even though you probably do a great job with them, you may not step out of your area of expertise often. Things that you once knew may not be at the front of your mind anymore. Returning to school requires you to learn, or relearn, those skills such as writing, research, and public speaking, that you do not use daily. Giving these skills a refresher, along with continuing your education, will give you newfound confidence that will help you advance in your career. Earning a graduate degree does require sacrifices, but can help you push your career to the next level.


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