Questions to Ask Before you go to Graduate School

graduate schoolThese days, it seems a bachelor’s degree doesn’t promise you very much in terms of landing a job and creating a successful career. Many recent graduates are debating going back to school, and many people who have jobs are thinking that a higher degree may be what they need to stay competitive in their career field. But before you sign on to at least two more years’ of student loans, there are some questions to ask yourself before you go to graduate school.

Can you balance work and school?

For many, graduate school gives you that edge you need to stand out from the rest of the crowd. And many consider it an investment in their future.

While some may be able to work and go to school at the same time– all while keeping up with bills and paying school out of their own pockets–for many, going to graduate school will require a financial and emotional commitment.

It’s important when looking at a program to choose one that will fulfill your requirements but wont’ make you lose your mind, whether it be paying for school or being able to fit in all the requirements of a rigorous program. A lot of older adults aren’t single and have family that require some sort of time commitment. Graduate school will require a good amount of sacrifice, but you can also strive to achieve a good school-work-life balance by choosing a program that’s right for you.

Can you afford it?

I currently have $21,000 left in student loans from my bachelor’s. I wouldn’t even be considering going to graduate school at this time in my life if I had to pay for it all by myself out of my own pocket. Lucky for me, my company offers up to 75% reimbursement for a higher degree.

Many companies nowadays offer some type of tuition reimbursement or stipend. Check with your company’s human resources to see what options your company may offer.

With 75% reimbursement (reimbursed each semester), I could essentially take out a small loan to get off and running, but then pay for it myself as I go.

Will your degree help you work your way up the corporate ladder?

Many recent graduates end up going back to school because they don’t know what else to do. They still haven’t figured out what they want to do so they end up at graduate school, hoping to find an answer.  Even sometimes a general degree,  such as a masters in psychology  or business analysis might be able to help you down the road.

At my company, I know that a master’s will give me that push I need to be considered for a management position. I am expecting about three people in my department to retire within 3 to 7 years, meaning a lot of position shifts. I want to be competitive and considered for a management position–and I truly believe that a higher degree will give me that edge that I need.

Is it worth it?

Going to graduate school is a lot of work. It’s a lot of sacrifice, a lot of studying and a big old balancing job of career, school and family. Is it worth it to sacrifice a couple of years for a degree that may or may not help your job?

I wouldn’t put myself through graduate school unless I was at least 90% percent sure that my degree would help my career. Too many people these days go for a degree when they’re not really sure if it will help them or not. I think it’s too much of an investment, both financially and emotionally, to go “just because” (unless of course, you’re going simply for the sake of educational growth).

It’s important to ask yourself several questions before you jump on a whim to commit two years of your life to go back to school. Make sure graduate school is an investment worth making.

photo by herry

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Written by Erika

Erika blogs at Newlyweds on a Budget about couples managing finances, newlywed life and everything in between.


Erika blogs at Newlyweds on a Budget about couples managing finances, newlywed life and everything in between.

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