The decision to attend graduate school is a big one. There are many factors to consider and you should feel confident about your choice. It is important that you do some soul searching and research before you jump in. This section will help lay the ground work for some of that self-exploration.

Questions to Ask

Before you decide to continue your education in graduate school, consider the following questions:

  • Why do I want to go to graduate school?
    • Is it for personal or professional reasons?
    • Am I postponing some tough decisions by going to graduate school? (i.e., I'm not sure what I want to do with my life, so I'll just keep going to school.)
  • How might graduate school affect my career or professional plans?
    • Will the graduate degree enhance or narrow my employment prospects?
    • Will the specific area of study help me get the job I want?
    • Look up your intended career on a site like O*Net. Do most people in the field have a graduate degree? Will a Master's degree be enough or will you need a Doctorate?
  • Do I need to attend right away?
    • Would I benefit more by gaining some practical experience before pursuing graduate school?
    • Search for current openings in your field and review position descriptions. Do most require a graduate degree or is more emphasis placed on experience?
  • Am I burned out academically or anxious to continue with academic work?
    • If the thought of writing another paper makes you want to scream, you may need a break before continuing your education.
  • Do I know exactly what discipline I want to study?
    • Choosing a program that's right for you is much easier when you know what you are looking for.
  • How will I finance it?

Pros and Cons

There are a number of advantages to proceeding directly to graduate school, but there are probably an equal amount of disadvantages. A few to consider: 

Grad school right after college. Pros: continuity of learning; easier to finance before addition of other financial obligations; can defer undergrad loans; completing education before entering career field. Cons: burnout; uncertainty of it’s the right field for you; adding more loans; some programs prefer candidates with experience.