Deciding on whether or not you want to go to graduate school can be stressful. You have to take the GRE, research graduate programs, find funding, find a location and the list goes on. I spent a few months researching graduate programs and I found that there are a few things to consider before choosing to attend graduate school.
1. Do you need graduate school in your field?
Ask yourself, "How will this help me?" Not everyone needs a graduate degree. Some industries prefer work experience over education. If this is the case, it may be better to get work experience under your belt then go back to graduate school after a couple of years. Maybe your employer will pay for your education!
2. Are you eligible for assistantships and fellowships?
The days of stressing over your bursar bills are over! If you are going get your Master's degree you should NOT be paying for it. There are so many graduate programs that WILL PAY YOU to go to school. You can get your tuition and fees funded and also receive a monthly stipend to cover your living expenses. You will not be rich but you will not be paying for school.
3. Do you know what you want to study?
Research your industry to see what areas of study are required for jobs. If you studied public relations for your undergraduate degree, maybe you should study something that will complement your existing degree such as, environmental studies. All too often, students go to graduate school because they're comfortable with going to school. While that is understandable, you don't want to rush to attend graduate school. Make sure your decision well thought out. There's nothing worse than a wasted degree.
4. Is it a good graduate program?
People spend a lot of time on making their program sound good but is it actually worth your time? During your research, call and talk to professors at in the department you're interested in. Ask questions such as, "What do students do after receiving their degrees?" Ask about job placement services, department awards and recognitions, and funding opportunities.
Is it a research program or a practical program? Research programs are good for students who are interested in obtaining a PhD or teaching. Practical programs prepare you for the working world. Research the teachers to see what they've studied and their interests. You will be working very closely with the instructors so it's important that you know their area of expertise.
Some times a graduate degree is great for upward mobility within a company, therefore the degree may not be useful for years down the road. For some people this is okay but not for others. The most important thing when deciding on going to graduate school is RESEARCH, RESEARCH, and RESEARCH!! A graduate degree is only useful if you choose the correct option. Graduate school will always be there so make wise decisions!