Entering graduate school is a major life decision; it requires a big commitment of time, money, and effort. Grad school is considered a job; those who work while doing graduate studies should learn how to balance two full-time careers.
People enter graduate school for many reasons, including a deep interest in an academic area, career entry, and professional advancement. Knowing why you want to pursue graduate studies is important in deciding whether it is a good choice for you, and choosing which degree program meets your needs.
Understanding Your Motivation
Graduate studies can be a fulfilling endeavor, but it can also be a mistake if taken for the wrong reason. Pursuing grad school just because your family and professors encouraged you to do so doesn’t make it the right decision for you. Going to graduate school is a good idea if you want to work in a profession that requires post-secondary education, or wish to develop additional expertise in a particular field to advance your career. But it isn’t advisable if you just want to delay your entry to the “real world,” stay in school to avoid a poor job market, and are clueless about your career goals.
Considering Your Finances
The cost of graduate programs varies by university. Public colleges offer less expensive programs than private, but the cost may still range from $10,000-$25,000. Check if you qualify for some form of government financial aid and look for scholarships and grants in your state. Professionals who want to pursue graduate programs in Pennsylvania, for example, can apply for fellowship programs offered by the state. Some schools provide specific programs that you may apply to in addition to outside scholarships and grants. You can also finance graduate school by working part-time or applying for a loan with a flexible payment term.
Choosing a Specialization
Graduate school is narrow and specialized. Choose an area or field of study, which will allow you to fulfill your long-term goals. Determine your passion and consider your interests when selecting a program. Seek advice from experts, know the different specialties in a given field, and inquire about future employment opportunities.
Other than the possible financial rewards, pursuing graduate school offers personal growth, recognition and credibility, and a sense of accomplishment.