Upon completion of their undergraduate degree, many college students are left to wonder if it would be beneficial to continue their education and pursue a graduate degree. Far too often, college students choose to end their college careers after they complete their undergraduate degrees, but recently, more Americans are choosing to attend graduate school. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, college institutions of all types have reported an increase in graduate school enrollment.
For years, there have been debates on whether graduate school is worth the additional time and money. Like everything, there are several pros and cons to attending graduate school. It may not be the best option for everyone, so it is crucial to conduct in-depth research before deciding to attend graduate school for your degree of choice. Here are the top five things that you should take into consideration to find the school that best fits you.
The location of the graduate school you want to attend is important. Many students who decide to attend graduate school pick a school that requires them to relocate to a different city or state.
If you do not have a car, it is important to look into a school in a city that has a user-friendly public transportation system. A bigger city like Chicago is likely to have better and more reliable public transportation options than a small city. The goal is to ensure that your commute to and from campus is as quick and painless as possible.
In addition to excellent transportation, it is important to consider housing options and the cost of living in the city in which your school is located. Most colleges and universities only provide housing for undergraduate students. However, college institutions such as Texas A&M University, the University of Denver, The University of New Mexico and a few others provide limited on or off-campus housing for graduate students.
In most cases, graduate students will have to find off-campus apartments and take into consideration the apartment’s distance from campus and the cost of living, which can vary by city. For example, the cost of living in New York City is significantly more expensive than the cost of living in Perry, Georgia.
2. Cost of Tuition
It might be best to only consider schools that are financially feasible for you. If you receive a significant amount of financial aid or several scholarships, only then should you allow yourself to consider attending a more expensive university. The last thing you want to do is dig a financial grave for yourself by attending a school you know you cannot afford. Data shows that roughly 44.7 million Americans have accumulated student loan debt during their college years. Many typically rack up student loan debt during undergraduate school, so if you are one of those people, do yourself a favor and attend a graduate school that will not cause you to repay student loans for the rest of your life.
If you are entertaining the idea of attending graduate school, you may be wondering if your degree is worth the extra stress and money. One thing you may want to consider is how much you will make annually when you obtain a job in the career that you are pursuing. If you are going to make significantly less in your career than you paid to obtain the degree, it is probably not worth it to waste your money on another pricey degree. For example, if you are pursuing a career in art, you likely will not make more money than what you spend to put yourself through graduate school. However, if you plan to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, then the extra education may prove to be worth it.
Many people tend to buy into the myth that more education will help them make more money in the long run, but that does not always hold true. Depending on their career, some people can become more successful with just a high school diploma or two years of college. Many people are tricked into believing that education is the key to success, but your version of success and the steps you need to reach it all depend on your personal goals.
4. School Resources
Ultimately, you should find a graduate school that will provide you with the best resources. For example, a school that will equip you with the skills you need to succeed in an internship or a position within your desired field is ideal. Let’s be honest, how many college students can say that their universities actively aided in their search for job and internship opportunities? You must find a graduate school that will be committed to your success rather than one that sells you a flawless fantasy just to get your money and make you a statistic for their institution.
5. The Perfect Program
Lastly, it is important to find a graduate school that offers a program for your degree. This may seem like common sense, but it is just as important as the previous points. If a particular school does not offer a master’s program for your degree, do not look into that school any further because it will not benefit you.
It may help to Google search the top graduate schools for your degree field. Schools that have the highest-ranked programs for your degree will be the most beneficial to you in the long run. Generally, schools that have high-ranking programs in your field will allow you to make more connections, offer courses within their program that will challenge you, and provide you with the appropriate resources to succeed in your future career.
At the end of the day, whether you choose to attend graduate school is your decision. Do not allow people to pressure you into attending an expensive school that will run your pockets dry and leave you with the same amount of knowledge that you began with. Think long and hard about your options for graduate school and weigh the pros and cons before committing. Most importantly, remember to be an advocate for yourself, your future and your education.