Is Graduate School Right For You?

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on April 20, 2011

Whether you're a recent college graduate or you're considering the possibility of a career change, you might be wondering, is graduate school right for you? Graduate school isn't a path to choose lightly, without reflection. Earning a post-graduate degree, whether a Masters degree, Doctoral degree or a professional degree, requires tremendous commitments of time, energy and money, and you want to be sure you're putting these resources to the best possible use for your career path.

Assess Your Career Goals.

A graduate degree is a necessity for some careers, such as law, medicine, research or teaching at the college or university level. In other fields, such as information technology, a graduate degree can enhance your marketability and your earning potential. Assess your career goals in deciding whether graduate school is right for you. Will a graduate degree further those goals? If you know, career-wise, where you want to go and a graduate degree is the best way to get there, then graduate school is likely the path you'll want to take.

Timing Makes a Difference.

Even if you know graduate school is the path for you, it's important to evaluate your readiness. Timing makes a difference. You might have already been in school for a long time and need a break from being a student. A break can be a good thing, not only personally but also professionally. In some fields, like business or nursing, work experience for a couple of years prior to graduate school can enhance your prospects for employment. On the other hand, going to graduate school right after earning your undergraduate degree can be beneficial because you'll still be in student mode and in the habit of studying.

Consider Commitment and Cost.

Additional factors to consider in your decision are your level of commitment and the cost involved. Graduate courses will be more challenging than the courses you took as an undergraduate student, and you'll also be more independent: working on your own steam and conducting independent research. Are you ready for more intense academic responsibility? The cost of graduate school should be weighed as well, especially if you have already accumulated significant debt as an undergraduate. If you choose graduate school, then you'll want to investigate options for financial aid.

Rethink Your Reasons.

If you're considering graduate school because you dread entering the workforce or you just aren't sure what you want to do, then those aren't good reasons to commit to earning an advanced degree. You could consider going to graduate school later, but if you're unfocused as to your goals or you simply want to prolong your student days, it's time to rethink your reasons. Instead of pouring resources into something you aren't sure you want, you might want to seek consultation with a career counselor.

Going to graduate school for the right reasons can be a tremendous boon, professionally and personally. Graduate school can challenge you, advance you on your chosen career path, and aid you in following your dreams. If you put yourself on the path for the wrong reasons, though, you could wind up wasting time and money. Committing to graduate school constitutes a major life decision. So consider carefully and wisely whether graduate school is right for you.

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Truity was founded in 2012 to bring you helpful information and assessments to help you understand yourself and use your strengths. We are based in San Francisco, CA.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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