Should You Go to Graduate School?

Time To Read 3 MIN READ

Date: October, 26, 2016

Sometimes graduate school is the perfect path to the career you want, but other times, it can be a waste of time and money. If you're thinking of getting a master's or doctorate degree, weigh the pros and cons of your decision to do so. Here are a few considerations to help you decide whether graduate school makes sense for you.


Know Your Career Goals

To figure out whether graduate school makes sense for your life, you first have to know your career goals. If you want to enter a field that requires a graduate degree, such as law, or significantly rewards a graduate degree, like engineering, continuing with your schooling is a necessity.

If you have no idea whether a graduate degree will help you get your dream job, do some research. It's helpful to ask people in the industry how useful the degree will be. If you learn that having a graduate degree offers a big payoff, school may be the way to go.


Picking the Graduate Program

Once you decide that a graduate degree will open doors for you, you still have to be sure the program you're considering will help advance your career. First, research various schools before you decide where to go. Get statistics about their graduate programs, such as what percentage of the school's graduates got jobs in their field and what was the average starting salary for those jobs. Keep in mind that the cost of the graduate program is not always a good indicator of whether it is highly regarded in the industry.


Good Reasons to Go to Graduate School

Even if a second degree is not essential to entering your field of choice, graduate school still can be a good idea if it will increase your upward mobility. Do people in your field with graduate degrees get more responsibility or earn higher salaries over time? Will you have more flexibility and options with a graduate degree? Are you interested in pursuing a higher degree in order to follow a passion or satisfy your intellectual curiosity? Any of these reasons are enough to look further into attending graduate school.


Poor Reasons to Get a Graduate Degree

You may be wasting your time if you head to graduate school without a passion or a career path. It's never a good idea to cool your heels in an advanced program that doesn't interest you just because you have no idea what you really want to do. Nor is it beneficial to go to school simply because other people want you to. 

If you're thinking of going graduate school to avoid something — like finding a job or repaying your college student loans — it may be wise to reconsider. You'll only end up a few years older and deeper in debt.