Grad school can be a great way to advance your career, raise your earning potential and stand out from other job applicants. However, grad school isn’t for everyone or even necessary for every career path. You should assess your skills, strengths and weaknesses to determine whether you will want to spend two or more years continuing your schooling. At the CCO, our Career Services Consultants can give you an interest inventory to help determine whether graduate school is right for you (our Graduate and Professional Programs page has more information about scheduling an appointment). In addition to this assessment, here are some things to keep in mind when making a decision about graduate school and continuing education.
Your reasons for going to graduate school
If you are thinking about graduate school because you don’t think you will have a job on graduation or because you don’t know what else to do, you probably aren’t going for the right reasons. If you are thinking about graduate school because you want to advance your career, change careers or are simply hungering to learn more, you probably are going for the right reasons.
Your career goals and industry’s education requirements
If your career goal is to be CEO of a major corporation, a doctor or a professor, then a post-grad degree will either be necessary or help you on your way. However, if your industry doesn’t require Master’s degrees, having one could make you over-qualified for positions and limit your job opportunities. It can be helpful to search on LinkedIn for alumni of programs you are considering and ask them if they feel it was necessary or worth it to continue their education for what they are currently doing.
Your financial situation
Grad school can be expensive, and while aid does exist, it is largely supplied in the form of student loans versus grants you may be used to receiving as an undergrad. Some programs have stipends for research and offer scholarships to talented students. Many students work their way through grad school.
Higher pay isn’t guaranteed right away
Just because you go to graduate school doesn’t mean you will automatically make the big bucks. Sometimes it works out that way, but sometimes it will be necessary to work your way up, even after grad school. Remember: Even if you do make the big bucks after grad school, you will probably have a few loans to pay off before you can buy yourself that nice car you’ve been waiting for.
How you feel about standardized tests
Most graduate programs will have a requirement of test scores from the GRE or another graduate level standardized test for admittance (similar to the SAT and ACT scores required to apply to Purdue). Check with the programs you are considering to see which type of scores you may need, if any, to apply.