College Advice Blog

Apr 5, 2017

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Go to Grad School

Why do You Want to Go to Grad School?

Many people choose to go to grad school because they don’t know what else to do; if that’s your reason, then you probably shouldn’t go yet. Grad school is for people who have already figured out what they want to do. For example, someone might decide after graduation that he/she wants to be a dietician, so grad school is the next step. Maybe you want to be a physical therapist – again, grad school is the next step.

If grad school was free, it would be a more viable way to fill the time while you decide what you want to do. But no one wants to get a masters degree only to decide they want to pursue something totally different. It’s imperative that you are decisive before you expend the resources, time, and energy to get a graduate degree.

Will the Degree Teach You Skills?

All majors are not created equal, and all postgraduate areas of study will not lead to niche skills that you can turn into a high paying job. Business owners value employees who can do things they can’t; that is why people hire other people. You want to be that person who has skills that other people need. If those skills are in high demand, you can charge lots of money for your services.

Good examples of skill-centered fields are professional degrees such as accounting, law school, physical therapy school, and pharmacy school. All of these programs teach and certify you to do certain tasks that our economy highly values. On the other hand, a master’s degree in art, theater, English, a foreign language, and many others don’t lead to skills that can easily be turned into money. Although there are opportunities for students in those fields, there just aren’t as many opportunities, and it’s much harder to find a well paying job.

Can You Tolerate Doing That Job?

Accounting is a really popular major because accountants make good money, but it’s a super boring, tedious job. Some people can tolerate it, and others cannot. Being a doctor is a highly respected profession, but if you can’t handle the hours and being on call constantly, it’s better to select a different profession.

Most jobs fall into two categories: task orientated and people oriented. An elementary school teacher is an example of a people oriented job, and a software developer is an example of a task oriented job. The economy needs both types, and you probably have a good idea of which will suit you the best.

What are Your Chances of Getting that Job?

Some jobs have so many applicants that, even if you have the skills, your chances of getting that job are practically zero. Big name, Hollywood actors are one example of this– everyone wants that job, but there are only a limited number of openings. The people in charge are highly selective, and the competition is fierce.

Additionally, many jobs are closed to new graduates and require intensive on-the-job training to advance to the level you desire. Some won’t get to that level, and some will. College coaches, CEOs, and presidents of companies are good examples.

So, it’s a good to have an idea of what will be needed in addition to a graduate degree in order to get that dream job. You can find lots of statistics online regarding what jobs are in high demand and the number of qualified people who are applying for those jobs. Use them as a loose guide as you think through your options.

Author Bio

Ben Warren graduated from the University of Georgia; he is a software developer and recently created a service to help students sell textbooks online. When he’s not coding, he enjoys scuba diving and the outdoors.

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