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How to Know if Grad School is Right for You, By: Courtney Crites

May 01, 2023 09:59 PM
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So, you want to go back to school, but you're not sure if it's the right choice. I get it - there are so many factors that can make grad school feel like a good or bad fit - I know, I recently made the decision to pursue a grad program. From experience, before making a choice on grad school, consider the following questions:

1. What is my motivation for pursuing grad school?

Knowing why you want to pursue grad school seems obvious but don't discount the importance of your answer. Having a clear vision for your career path and how graduate school will help you get there means that you're doing the groundwork before making a big leap (and investment). For example, if your goal is to earn more money by getting another degree, then think about how much time and money grad school will cost and if those resources will yield enough value in your hopeful future career. It is possible that your resources could be better spent elsewhere so investigate all possible avenues. But, if your goal is to enhance your career prospects, gain new skills and knowledge, and pursue a specific passion or field of study, it's likely grad school is something you should genuinely consider.  

2. Am I (really) ready for this? 

Let’s be real: any post-secondary education is expensive, and grad school is no exception. Before committing to the time and financial investment, I encourage you to think about your current debt level, tuition costs, and your expected salary once you graduate. (This was touched on in the previous paragraph but if the cost of your program and its interest rate on student loans is very high, resulting in ongoing student debt, consider whether or not the investment is worth it in the long run).  While pursuing a higher degree may require some sacrifices, ensure that they won't negatively impact other areas of your life - from financial to personal.

3. Will it improve my career prospects? 

In some industries, work experience tends to be more valuable than the book-learning you do in grad school; this is especially true if you want a position where practical skills are highly valued by employers. I encourage you to make a list of different roles you can see yourself in post-grad. On these job postings, make note of what is typically required - do need graduate degrees? Or do these roles and employers favour previous work experience? Don't hesitate to network and ask your circle, and their 'circles', what they've found to be the answer so far in their career journeys.

Final Thoughts 

Deciding if grad school is right for you can be difficult. It’s ultimately your choice and everyone's life circumstances and underlying motivations are unique but it is true what they say: there's no wrong choice, only what's right for you.