When you graduate from college, you have a lot of options about how to make your next move. Some will try to jump into the workforce, some take time off, and others think about continuing their education by applying to graduate school. If you’re considering grad school, make sure to ask yourself these five questions first:
1. Am I sure of what I want to study?
Graduate school is obviously different than the undergraduate experience. You might have started out as a freshman with an undeclared major, and took your time deciding on what to major in. Grad school doesn’t really offer that luxury. You have to know what it is that you want to study and what degree you’d like to eventually obtain. This will make searching through grad programs easier. If you don’t have any specific goals in mind though, grad school might not be the best idea.
2. Will this advance my career prospects?
When you already know what it is you want to study in grad school, you need to ask yourself how it will affect your professional future. Grad school will take up a lot of your time and it can be pretty expensive. You might want to get an MFA in creative writing, but will that help you get a paying career before you can be a bestselling author? If you’re interested in something that won’t necessarily help your career prospects, consider putting off grad school until you have more stability and a steady income.
3. Can I afford it?
Most students graduate college with a huge pile of student loans. It’s important to think about how you’ll tackle those payments in addition to new bills for grad school. Try looking for scholarships and grants, and find out what schools and programs would be within your budget. Also, consider the fact that some jobs will help pay for your graduate school classes! So if you’re ready to jump into the job market, find out what companies offer tuition reimbursement.
4. What schedule would be best?
Grad school accommodates for people’s busy schedules, so think about what time commitments would best suit your lifestyle. Full time, part time? Would you take night classes after work, or go during the day? Depending on what schedule you make for yourself, you can earn your degree in different amounts of time. Consider that too—do you want to devote three years to grad school, or do you want to set a sooner cutoff date and work from there?
5. Can I be fully committed?
Don’t forget that grad school is hard work. You’ll have to work more independently, and there will be higher expectations for you. You might get less guidance from professors than you did as an undergrad, and you’ll have to be self-motivated to stay on top of all your ongoing assignments. Make sure that you’ll be able to balance your grad school workload with any outside commitments you have.
If you’ve considered the above questions and are ready to start the graduate school search, excellent! Refer to this article to see what tests you’ll have to complete to be eligible.