With a new school year starting, some young professionals are knee deep in GRE prep books and writing essays for their graduate school applications. But, there’s even more contemplating whether “to go” or “not to go,” unsure of whether grad school is really the best way to help them achieve their career goals.
Both the cost in tuition fees and the extra length of time out of employment means that applying to graduate school is a decision not to be made lightly—but there are a few reasons that an extra 2-3 years of schooling may not be such a bad idea after all. If you’re on the fence consider these seven reasons.
1. You Need an Advanced Degree in Your Field
In some careers—like those of lawyers, doctors, etc.—you simply are not qualified unless you get an advanced degree, which means grad school is necessary in order to advance.
2. You Want to Work in Academia
If you super passionate about a subject, becoming a professor could easily be the most fulfilling job for you—which means you’ll need to head straight back to the classroom yourself as teaching at the college level or higher typically requires a graduate degree.
3. You've Hit a Wall in Your Career
A graduate degree can set your resume apart in this competitive job market. The ideal candidate has a winning combination of experience, background knowledge and an advanced degree. To a certain extent, certifications can replace graduate degrees. If you are a CPA sometimes that puts you on the same level as someone with an MBA on their resume. But if you have certifications AND an advanced degree, it can really set you apart.
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4. You Want to Switch Careers
Let’s say you are an accountant but want to get into marketing. Or a writer who dreams of being a film director. What is an easy way to switch fields? Grad school! While it may not be easy to get into a graduate program—it can be well worth the money in effort if you’re not happy in your current position.
5. To Advance Financially
Anyone considering grad school would be less than wise to not consider the return on investment. U.S. workers between the ages of 21 and 64 with a master's degree or higher earn an average annual salary of $55,242, versus those with a bachelor's degree whose average annual salary is $42,877, according to the United States Census Bureau. That represents nearly a 30 percent difference in average annual salary—and offers clear evidence that completing a graduate degree can make all the difference when trying to survive in this economy.
6. To Get Connected
Attending a grad school can expose you to some of the best minds out there. All of the contacts you make can help you start your career at a higher level, rather than starting to work with just a bachelor’s degree. Plus most grad programs are small and intimate, giving you the chance to work closely with peers and professors. Then there are assistantships, fellowships and other working opportunities that give students the chance to work for accomplished professionals who teach at your university.
7.You Simply Want To
While the things listed above are great reasons for going back to school—sometimes the best reason is simply because you want to. If learning more about your passion sets your soul on fire, than the decision to go or not go is an easy one.
Most importantly remember attending graduate school is an enormous commitment, and you need to want to put in the time, money and effort it requires—no matter your motivation for going.