Should You Attend Graduate School?

August 12, 2016  |  
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Image: Shutterstock

There are many reasons one might want to go to graduate school. An advanced degree allows you to further specialize in the field of your choice. Earning a master’s or Ph.D. can equate to more money at work in the long term, depending on your chosen industry. But graduate school definitely comes with its own unique set of concerns and questions. An advanced degree isn’t exactly cheap, after all. Are you willing to take on the debt? Aside from loans, can you find other ways to fund your education? There was a time when people with certain advanced degrees were guaranteed employment, but in today’s ever-shifting economy, that is no longer the case. Are you comfortable applying for school knowing that going in? The questions (and seemingly the pros and cons) are endless, but if you’re contemplating whether or not you should apply to or attend graduate school, here are some things you should take into consideration.

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Image: Shutterstock

Loans

If you’re still repaying loans from undergrad, chances are, the thought of borrowing more money to fund graduate school leaves you a little bent. But until free education is an actual, realized thing (scholarships aside), loans are the way to go. Are you willing to take on more debt? What are the interest rates for Stafford and Direct Stafford loans? What are your loan repayment options and how soon would you be able to start paying them back? Do you borrow just enough for school fees or additional money for your living expenses?

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Image: Shutterstock

Assistant Opportunities

Applying for a teacher’s assistant, graduate assistant or research assistant gig can reduce your cost of education or earn you money as you matriculate. While a position is not guaranteed, factoring in an assistant opportunity into your decision is wise.

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Image: Shutterstock

Is This Degree Necessary or Useful?

Two of the top questions often asked by people considering attending graduate school include the following: W ill getting an advanced degree help secure a job in my field of choosing and will it earn me more money? Depending on your industry or profession, an advanced degree may not be crucial or even necessary. But that doesn’t mean pursuing an advanced degree isn’t worth your time.

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Image: Shutterstock

Alumni

Getting to know your perspective graduate school’s alumni association is a great starting place. What is their outreach like? How do they aid alumni in finding jobs? You can also reach out to alumni and ask them questions about their experiences in school.

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Image: Shutterstock

Do You Have the Time?

We all live such busy lives, but if you feel that you’re not willing or able to make the necessary changes in your day-to-day life to accommodate classes, assignments, studying, etc., not only could it take you longer to complete your graduate degree, you may not fully take advantage of all that a given school has to offer.

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Image: Shutterstock

Graduate Record Exam

Many graduate programs require that you take the GRE as part of your admission. If you’re considering applying to graduate school, factor this into your decision and make sure that you have enough time to study, complete the exam and apply to your desired program.

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Image: Shutterstock

Certificate Program

Doctor, lawyer, professor – these careers obviously require an advanced degree. For others, however, a certificate program might suffice. Not to mention, certificate programs are significantly cheaper and usually take less time to complete.

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Image: Shutterstock

Employer Incentives

Some large employers have money set aside for employees looking to bolster their education. That means they’re willing to pay partial or full fees. Check with your employer to determine how you can take advantage of such an opportunity.

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Image: Shutterstock

Access

Anyone going to graduate school is there for the access – to funded research, rare books and publications, advanced equipment, unique travel opportunities, and brilliant minds. If this speaks to you, you should definitely apply.

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Image: Shutterstock

Connections

Speaking of access, one of the many advantages to graduate school is the connections you can make – with fellow students, professors, faculty and the like. Your grad school education is much more focused and specialized and these priceless networking opportunities (in addition to your degree) could be the ticket to the perfect job.

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