Top 5 Questions to Ask Before Going to Grad School

Grad school is a big step to take. You’re making a huge decision and massive commitment. In the US, you don’t have much support at this level. You’re certain to be saddled with a huge debt by the time you come out the other side. And if you aren’t prepared to deal with this, then it probably isn’t the right choice for you.

Before deciding to go to grad school, do your research. Make sure your investment is going to take you somewhere you otherwise couldn’t get to. Here are five questions to ask before going to grad school.

#1 What is the Financial Impact?

A big part of going to grad school is the cost. The problem is you can’t give an accurate figure for how much it’s going to cost. It differs so much between grad schools. 

Look at the USC School of Journalism as an example. This costs over $50,000 for the entire course. You have to consider whether you’re likely to earn a high enough salary to cover the cost of this sort of loan. Remember, you will already have debt from your bachelor’s degree. An additional $50,000 would leave the debt lingering for decades to come.

There are other options available to you. Some companies will pay their young interns to attend grad school. If you can secure one of these hard-to-get positions, you don’t have to worry about the financial side of things.

Never just look at the number, either. Think about the future and how you’re going to pay it back in the end.

#2 Do You Need a Degree? 

There’s little point in pursuing higher education if the degree isn’t going to influence your personal career. Yes, some do attend grad school to enlighten themselves, but the majority of people go for the purposes of getting themselves a better career.

In a lot of careers, experience means far more than the type of degree you have. If there’s an alternative way into your chosen career, think about opting for that alternative route. And consider more than your starting position. Is the degree essential for a promotion? This is why you need to know your career path intimately.

#3 Is this a Long-Term Career?

When you make such a big commitment of time and money, you need to make sure this is the right career for you. If you’re the type of person who flits between professions all the time, is this really the sort of long-term decision you’re ready to take?

By changing careers, you’re potentially making your degree completely obsolete. Don’t throw away all that effort by picking up a degree for a career you aren’t really interested in.

#4 What about Your Personal Life?

You’re an adult now. Going off to school involves making big decisions about what you want to do with your personal life. If you already have a young family, think about how attending grad school could impact your relationships with them. Are you going to have the time to dedicate to cultivating those relationships?

You also have to consider your current job; assuming you have one. Can you go to school and work your current job at the same time? 

#5 Will the Degree Recoup the Costs?

Once again, we go back to the money issues. Think about whether your degree will recoup the costs of the initial investment. Write down how much you’re going to have to repay on the loan and how long it’s going to take to pay back at specific salary levels. You may discover it’s not worth the hassle and there are better options available.

As can be seen Grad School is a major investment, so a bit of due diligence and making sure to ask yourself the questions above will go a long way to helping you make the right choice.

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