by Paige Miller
It’s obvious that people who want to work in law or practice medicine need an advanced degree. But for many others, deciding whether or not to go to graduate school can be a major dilemma.
About two years out of college, I had been accepted into a Master of Environmental Management graduate program. When I toured campus, bright-eyed graduate students toured prospective students and myself around campus, raving about the excellent academic opportunities and esteemed faculty. I was convinced it was the ideal program for me.
After I returned home from my visit, there was only obstacle between me and the program: the $74,000 loan application sitting in my inbox.
The loan made me nervous, so I scoured online news articles about the pros and cons of going to graduate school, and I interviewed a slew of professionals in my network. Here is what I learned:
- Graduate school will help you build lasting professional relationships and expand your professional network.
- In some cases, graduate school can increase your earning potential and the responsibilities you take on in your career.
- In a competitive job market, having a graduate degree can make you stand out in the mass of applications.
- You get to soak up new knowledge!
- It’s expensive.
- In addition to taking on considerable debt, you will missing out on years of full-time work experience which is also valuable in the job market (unless you work at the same time, which can be super stressful).
- There are a lot of ways you can get the perks of graduate school without the debt (stay tuned to next month’s blog for details)
In the end, I decided to hold off on graduate school because I realized I wanted to go for mostly the wrong reasons. While I did want to expand my knowledge, I also wanted to go to graduate school because I thought it was necessary for me to find a job (it wasn’t) and I thought it sounded fun (it would have been). My advice to anyone considering graduate school is to not take the decision lightly. Do your research to determine whether graduate school is for you, and if so, which programs best fit your academic and financial needs. Consult with colleagues in your industry that you look up to. And if you do decide to apply, apply with vigor. What do you think? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter.