Is it for me?
Graduate and professional schools are for people who need additional credentials beyond an undergraduate degree to reach their career goals. The decision of whether or not to extend your education should be made after careful weighing of options and examining your career goals.
If you are considering graduate school, answer these questions:
- What do I want to do after grad school?
- Does it require an advanced degree?
- Am I better off getting practical experience instead?
- Am I afraid of burnout?
- Do I have job prospects?
- Am I sure what I want to study?
- Can I afford more schooling right now?
- What is my return rate in investing in school versus taking a higher position?
- Are there any workforce training funds in case I am laid off?
- Should I take online courses?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of for-profit degree universities? Will employers look at this degree as an equivalent?
- I have been out of school for ___ years. How can I test the waters to see if I am ready to go back?
When choosing a graduate school, consider these factors:
- Admission Standards Find out the program requirements: Are your grades acceptable? Are extra activities or work experience required? How is admission determined? Are exams required?
- Geography Choose a place where you'll feel comfortable and where you can afford living. If you plan to relocate with a significant other or a family, consider related factors such as the job market, children's schools, and the region's lifestyle. Is it a good fit?
- Cost Determine the cost of the program, including living expenses. Can you afford it? Is financial aid available and do you qualify? Are there any paid teaching or research positions available at the school?
- Accessibility Determine how easy it will be to get the classes you want and their availability at the time you need them. How is the commute? Is distance education offered?
- Certification/Accreditation It's vital that the program you choose be accepted in the field you are pursuing. Find out what accreditations, certifications, or licenses are necessary in your field and make sure your chosen program meets any national, state, or local guidelines.
- Program What does the program entail? Does it fit your needs and the needs of your chosen profession? Will it adequately prepare you for the next step?
- Time Find out how long it usually takes students to complete the program and determine if this timeline works for you.
- Reputation Look into the reputation of the program as well as the school. It is important that the program you choose is respected and well received.
- Faculty This goes along with reputation. Are the faculty respected in their fields? Are they current with the latest theories and trends?
- Employment Statistics Investigate the employment stats for graduates of this program. Are people being hired in their chosen field? What salaries are graduates being offered?