Is Graduate School Worth Your Time (and Money)?
Deciding to go to grad school can be a difficult choice. There are many things to consider, like debt and time commitments. We've discussed some other things in this article to help you along the way.
Deciding on Graduate School
College already costs so much that you're lucky to get out with only minimal debt. With all those fees looming over you, it might strike you as foolish to even consider grad school. Is more higher learning worth the higher price?
The answer to that is a definitive maybe. It depends on a lot of factors concerning what you want to do and where you are currently in life. Let's think about ways that grad school could or could not be worth your time and money.
Are You Willing to Pay Off the Debt?
Though not always as expensive as undergraduate school, grad school is still awfully pricey. Taking a few more years of learning means many more years of paying off debt. Consider carefully if you're willing to pay all that money and commit to more years of being in debt over student loans. Consider how it could financially affect your ability to pay for a car and rent or a mortgage later on. Extra bills don't help, but if you are willing to plan for the extra debt or are able to get a job that will help pay the costs, then you might be good to go.
Is it Necessary for Your Career?
Grad school seems like just an extra to many of us, but for certain careers, it's a must. If you want to become a psychologist, lawyer or a postsecondary teacher, it's pretty difficult to get a job or further your career without grad school. Look into what job you'd like to pursue after college. Consider if you'll be able to get a higher paying position or be able to move forward without attending grad school. If the answer is no, then it's time to plan for even higher education.
Does it Have a Work-Study or Job Program?
If you're not sure that grad school will help you get a job, consider looking into schools with job programs. Some programs are basically hands-on jobs that you get credits for. You work part of the time in the field you're studying, and you spend the rest of the time in the classroom. Money that you make often pays for your education, and sometimes you can even keep it. And when you come out of the program, you have a job waiting for you that you've already been trained for. If your chosen school has one of these programs, you'll be set up for a better career after college and will have a smaller mountain of debt to pay as well.
Can You Get a Scholarship?
Nothing feels better than free money, except maybe free education. Of course, you need the first to get the second. Look into grad school financial aid. Perhaps you fall into the category of needing aid because of low income. On the other hand, perhaps you can write a killer essay or have done college extracurriculars that warrant special awards. There are also many competitive graduate programs at the doctoral level that offer free tuition and a stipend, if you can get in. If you can get money to help fund for your education or pay for it entirely, there really is no reason not to go to grad school. It's a wonderful and valuable learning experience.
Do You Want to Stay in Academia?
Sometimes entering the working world sounds scary. Leaving your college lifestyle is a daunting prospect, and maybe you're not quite ready to do it. Maybe you want more time to learn, live and interact with fellow students. Grad school is a place where you can still do that. If you have the money and drive to go to grad school, why not? If you want to go to grad school just to take a little more time before you have to start a full adult life, that's okay. After all, only you can decide if grad school is the right next step in your life.
When Grad School Isn't for You
If you're still on the fence about grad school, consider the downsides. Some careers don't require grad school, so you'd just be paying a lot of extra money without getting any extra in your paycheck down the line. You'll have more debt, and if you intend to travel or have children in the next few years after graduation, then extra bills to pay might really mess with your plans. If you cannot get financial aid or work study, then you'll be footing the bill entirely yourself.
Do a little thinking to decide if this is really worth your time and money. And try not to be afraid of leaving school and going out into the world. You may well be ready, more so than you think. It might seem scary, but sometimes you need to face your fears and jump into things in order to get over them. You'll have to start real life sooner or later. Perhaps for you, sooner really is better than later.
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