Should I Go To Graduate School?


Deciding whether to go to graduate school is as difficult as it is important. While pursuing graduate study affords you the opportunity to delve deeply into a chosen subject area, you will have to work hard, often under pressure, and will need to develop personal motivation for independent study. Because of the demands as well as the rewards, not to mention the costs, it is important that you give this decision much thought.

We have all heard stories of the student who went directly from undergraduate to graduate study, partly out of indecision, only to be miserable in graduate school and still without a career direction. Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding to pursue graduate school:

  • What do I want to do with my life?
  • What would I like to be doing five to ten years from now?
  • Will graduate study help me get there?
  • What do I want to accomplish from graduate study?
  • Are there other ways of reaching my goal?
  • Do I know what to expect from graduate school?
  • What are the advantages of going to graduate school immediately after getting my bachelor’s degree?
  • What are the advantages of waiting two to five years before going on for graduate study?
  • Am I personally ready to tackle graduate school?
  • Do I have the necessary ability and interest to be successful in graduate school?
  • Has my academic training adequately prepared me to face the demands of graduate school?
  • Why am I planning to attend graduate school?
  • What do I hope to gain from the experience?
  • Am I choosing graduate school to delay the decision about what kind of career I want?
  • Have I investigated opportunities available to me at every education level?
  • Am I willing to invest the time, effort, and expense to undertake a program that will require prolonged concentration in an academic setting?

The decision to attend graduate school involves many factors including tuition cost, location, and occupational opportunities. A decision as important as this calls for some careful initial inquiry.

In deciding on a graduate program, it is important to consider the following:

  1. Your level of interest and ability in your chosen area of work and study.
  2. Your access to attractive employment opportunities.
  3. The cost of education in terms of investment and return.

As college education has become more common, people have sought increasingly to distinguish themselves by obtaining graduate degrees. However, we have learned that an advanced degree alone does not guarantee a good job. Good planning coupled with part-time, volunteer, or internship experience, is as essential to a new MA, MBA, or Ph.D. as it is to any new college graduate.

We recommend that you use these strategies as you make your decision:

  • Talk with a faculty member about your decision and about fields and schools that would match your interests.
  • Meet with your advisor or career counselor, who can help you with your graduate school decision-making.
  • Talk to alumni but keep in mind requirements and reputations change and departments within universities can differ dramatically.