Graduate School: Is It the Right Next Step for You?

The decision whether or not to continue your education past undergrad can be quite difficult. Applying for graduate school takes a lot of work and programs are often very selective.

A lot of people have trouble determining whether that process is a good investment of time, rather than jumping right into the job market and seeing how it goes. Here are some signs that graduate school might be the necessary next step in your career journey.

1. The career you want is in high demand.

Job seeking has become consistently more competitive over the years. With an increasing number of people receiving their Bachelor’s degree, a lot of undergraduates find it hard to stand out amongst the crowd. Graduate school can make you a more appealing candidate.

Because you study your interests in greater depth while pursuing your Master’s in comparison to a Bachelor’s, employers know that you have a more specialized skill set, including academic writing.

There are often guaranteed job opportunities that come from attending a graduate program. Many graduate students are required to teach as a part of obtaining their Master’s. Some students are offered full-time teaching positions after they graduate.

2. You need to build more connections.

Pursuing your Master’s is a perfect opportunity to build lifelong partnerships as well as friendships. Master’s programs generally accept a small group of students every year. This tight-knit group of like-minded individuals is essential in creating a network for future careers.

You’ll be able to participate in funded research as well as the opportunity to work on advanced projects. Your professors will be people who are experienced and established in the industry. These are also great references for future employment.

3. You want to.

This one might seem obvious but the pressure to continue education, especially soon after undergrad can cause you to ignore the most important indicator of whether graduate school is right for you. And while it is true that sometimes we have to do things we don’t love in order to succeed, you should be excited at the idea of being in graduate school.

There are going to be some tasks that aren’t so exciting on the journey. There are even going to be days, perhaps when you’re writing your thesis, where frustration will be the primary emotion. And that’s why you want to be sure that your enthusiasm for the program will be maintained through the difficult times.

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Universities ask for a lot from prospective students. For example, students hoping to be accepted into a MFA poetry program are required to submit around 10 poems, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

The process can take months to finalize, so before you start, you want to make sure that you’re prepared to go through with it and that this is an avenue that you want to pursue. A good sign that graduate school is a good idea is if you feel more excitement the more you learn about your desired program.

You’re going to work more independently while pursuing your Master’s. It is often more lonely than undergrad because your cohorts are usually older and have their own families. According to data from the 2000 National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey, the average graduate student is 33 years old, and 20% of all graduate students are over the age of 40.

If you aren’t in a fully-funded program, graduate school can be an expensive commitment.so there are a lot of things that one must consider before making that commitment. Overall if you have a significant return on investment graduate school may be right for you.

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