College is almost always absolutely amazing — which makes the period following undergraduate graduation a slight let-down. After around four years of limited responsibility and a plethora of real adults telling you where to go and what to do, it can be daunting to have so many options in front of you. The fear of making the wrong choice paralyzes many recent grads. Worse, the weak economy in recent years has made the job market especially discouraging, convincing plenty of young adults that the real world is no fun at all. Thankfully, there is one reprieve: graduate school.
Returning to school to obtain a master’s degree or Ph.D. can be smart and noble — but most often, students choose this option for all the wrong reasons. Graduate school can be just as stressful, frightening, and lonesome as the working world, so going back requires serious consideration. To help you decide whether you should stop your job search and start your grad school apps, here are six good and bad reasons to reenroll.
Go Back to Enhance Knowledge
Most people enjoy learning a fact every once in a while, but if you are the type who relishes spending Friday night absorbing the details of some obscure tome, grad school is definitely for you. Of course, self-guided education is possible — especially with the expanse of the Internet. But for those who seek accurate, intricate knowledge, such aimless learning is usually unsatisfying. For information and structure you can trust, you need grad school.
Stay Away to Prevent Delay
However, while knowledge for the sake of knowledge is certainly important, it is no reason to remain in the education system longer than you need to gain employment. For many, attending graduate school is a way to postpone the drudgery of the job search — but sooner or later, students will have to find a lasting job.
Despite the fears of many undergrads, it is entirely possible to find a rewarding, paying job when you are fresh out of college. In fact, some graduate programs worsen a grad’s prospect of finding a worthwhile position as a master’s or a doctorate can make you look overqualified for some positions. If the fear of the hunt is causing you to consider grad school, you should simply face your fears.
Stay Away to Avoid Costs
If you thought your undergraduate education was too expensive, you should avoid grad school. While a number of science programs give generous grants to promising students, the most common master’s and doctorate programs in fields such as business, law, and medicine only rarely provide financial aid. Average costs vary widely depending on location and program, but most students should expect pay between $30,000 and $120,000 in tuition and fees during their graduate educations. Worse, the academic workload of some programs can impact students’ ability to find paying jobs during their educations causing financial stress.
Go Back for Greater Earning Power
Still, however financially traumatic grad school may be, the earning potential for grad school grads is immense. A worker with a master’s degree in public administration earns, over her lifetime, substantially more than a worker with just a bachelor degree, and the same is true for graduates of most other degree programs. So, for some grad school ruminators, the choice is between a few years of financial hardship or a lifetime of lower pay.
Go Back to Gain Recognition
During graduate school, you interact with the brightest and best minds in the world, learning their secrets and discovering your own. You have the chance to broadcast your name by networking with professors and fellow students as well as publishing papers and projects within your field. When you enter the job world, your resume will stand out due to your academic achievements, providing you with better positions and better pay out of the gate.
Stay Away to Gain Experience
Yet, in many fields, academic excellence amounts to very little. Professions that require hands-on experience, especially arts or technical trades, rarely value graduate-level education, as the time required to attain such degrees only limits your exposure to real-world trends. Therefore, before you investigate any programs, you might do well to speak to established professionals in your desired field to learn precisely what they cherish in young workers.