To go to graduate school or not: that is a question you may face after several years on the workforce and looking for a boost in your career; or after several decades of work and looking for a major change. Given the time and expense of a graduate school education, it makes sense to weigh the decision carefully. Here are 10 questions to consider before deciding on graduate school as the next step to advance your career:
If it’s strictly career advancement, you’ll want to confirm the net benefit to your career (see question 4). If it’s a bucket list item that you’ve always wanted to check off so why not now, then you want to confirm the time is right (questions 2 and 5) and your choice of program (question 6). If it’s some other reason, you want to clarify what that is, so you confirm that graduate school will meet your objectives and there isn’t another better, cheaper, more accessible alternative (see question 8).
2 – Is now the right time?
Even if you are 100% sure you want to go to graduate school at some point, that doesn’t mean that point is now . Now could be the right time if there is a natural inflection point in your career. In a banking career path, for example, analysts often opt for graduate business school after 2-3 years. Or maybe your company has just eliminated your position and you now have both time and some severance money to put towards graduate school. Or say you’ve been working towards a career change, and you’ve confirmed it’s for you, but you see that the candidates you’re up against have a graduate degree. You could be far enough along in your career metamorphosis that graduate school makes sense.
3 – How will you pay for it (or pay it back)?
Graduate school tuition, books and fees can run thousands of dollars. If you need to relocate, room, board and moving costs add significantly to this figure. Finally, you may not be able to work while attending school which means lost wages. How are you going to cover all of these expenses, which can total in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars? If you plan to borrow, how will you pay the loan back? If you’re counting on your post-graduate career to pay down your loan, confirm that the projected salaries for your industry and role can cover this. (forbes)