At some point in your college career you will need to decide what career path you would like to take and sometimes this also means making a decision regarding graduate school.Graduate school is not a way to avoid the "real world" or something that you should take on if you are unsure about your career goals. So, is a graduate program necessary for your career? Here are some tips to help you decide:
1. Should I go to graduate school?
Do you need advanced educational knowledge for your carere goals?
Does your career require post-secondary education?
Will graduate school help you advance in your career?
Are you deeply interested in the subject AND do you have the time and financial resources to take on another degree?
2. When should I attend graduate school?
Is it better to work first or attend graduate school immediately after graduation?
You should work first if...
You would like to have some real-world work experiece before starting another degree.
Your graduate program requests that you have work experience (this can be common among MBA programs and some Ph.D. programs).
You cannot afford graduate school right now.
You should go to graduate school now if...
You are absolutely sure that you need a graduate degree to obtain your goal career (doctor, lawyer, professor, etc.).
You have been awarded grants, scholarships, teaching assistantships, etc. that will relieve some of the financial obligations of graduate school.
3. How can I pay for graduate school?
Employer Scholarship/Tuition Reimbursement: some employers will pay for a percentage of your advanced education! Check with your human resources department for more information.
Financial Aid: this can include scholarships, fellowships, and student loans. Talk with your campus financial aid office about options. Fellowships and scholarships can come from the University or private origanizations so be sure to research opportunities in your field.
Teaching/Research Assistantships: many positions include a monthly stipend and a fee waiver. Check with your University to see what opportunities are available.
4. What do I do next?
If you have decided that graduate school might be right for you, start researching!
Talk with family, friends, professors, and Career Services staff to get their prospective about programs and the differences between undergraduate and graduate programs.
Idenitfy schools you are interested in and research the application process.
Investigate cost of attendance, rent, and other associated costs- make a financial plan!
Research testing dates and preparatory programs (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT).
Create a timeline to keep you on track for you applicaitons.