In the famous words of William Shakespeare, “To go to grad school, or not to go to grad school. That is the question.”
Okay. So maybe that’s not exactly what Will wrote, but that is the question on so many people’s minds today.
How do you know if grad school is right for you?
Can you afford it?
Will it really even benefit you in your career?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re considering grad school.
Investment of time
In theory, you’ve already spent four years earning your undergraduate degree. In reality, you may be part of the 60% of students who earn their degree and graduate in six years.
Graduate degrees can take anywhere from a year to two years to complete when enrolled full time. This depends on the program you choose and the area of study.
If you are going back to school part-time, it could take you significantly longer to earn your graduate degree.
No one can tell you if grad school is going to fit into your life or not, but consider these points:
- Will you be working at the same time? If so, it’s likely going to take you longer to earn your degree.
- Where do you see yourself in a year, two years, or four years? Will grad school benefit these plans or set you back?
- Is this time well spent? Is grad school truly going to benefit your career? Or are you just buying (and, yes, you’ll definitely be paying for it) yourself time before you have to make a career decision?
This consideration goes beyond tuition cost. You should also consider:
- In-state versus out-of-state fees
- Cost of books, parking, administrative fees
- Cost of housing and food
- Your eligibility for scholarships and grants
- Whether or not your current employer offers tuition reimbursement
Now compare the potential drain on your bank account with the earning potential grad school will give you. If you truly feel that you’ll come out on top, it’s time to consider how you’re going to get there.
Which means it’s time to consider what options you have for funding your grad school education.
Of course, you should put some time into researching scholarships and grant that you might be eligible for (there’s that whole investment of time thing again — and you haven’t even stepped foot on campus yet!).
But unless you’re one of the lucky few who are able to earn themselves a full ride scholarship to grad school, you may need to consider other options.
Student loans are the obvious next choice. But if you’re already struggling to pay off student debt from your Undergraduate degree, you may not be too eager to plunge into more loans.
If this is the case, consider looking into trying to consolidate student loans. This process combines all your student loans into one, so that you would only have to deal with one term, one payment, and one interest rate. This makes the whole process much more manageable and might just be the key to giving you a little more financial flexibility to continue your education.
Grad school can be a great stepping stone and might just be the boost your career needs, but be sure to consider all your options before applying.