Should I Go?
Is Graduate School Right for You?
The decision to attend graduate school is not one to be taken lightly. It is a huge time and financial commitment, so ask yourself what your motivations are for attending graduate school. Being honest with yourself is the best way to establish if grad school IS right for you.
The RIGHT Reasons to Attend Graduate School
- You have a clear sense of the career you want to pursue, and an advanced degree is the ticket to entry into that field.
- You have a love for scholarly pursuit. Keep in mind that you will be immersed for several years studying and doing research in a particular academic discipline.
- You are a career changer whose new interests have little connection to your undergraduate major. A graduate degree could add to your marketability in the job market.
- Attend grad school if you are working toward a goal, NOT postponing making a career decision or to avoid looking for a job.
The WRONG Reasons to Attend Graduate School
- You haven't decided what kind of career you want to pursue and would rather go back to school to "find yourself" or to postpone the "real world".
- You're getting pressure from your parents, friends, or professors. Your interests and motivation is what is important.
- You think grad school is a last resort because you won't be able to get a job. Don't buy into this myth! There is always something that can be done with ANY major.
Bradley University has equipped you with many skills that employers seek when hiring entry level job candidates. You will discover that your problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork and communications skills are highly valuable in the job market.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What do I want to accomplish in my lifetime?
- What are my long-term and short-term professional goals?
- Is graduate school necessary for me to achieve these goals?
- Am I simply postponing my career planning and decision making?
- Will the amount of time and money spent on a program ultimately translate into greater career mobility and financial possibilities?
- Am I willing to meet the extensive research, course work and major paper demands of another academic program?
- Would continuing education alternatives, such as University Extension, vocational school, community college, or professional seminars and workshops assist in achieving my goals?
Prior to Application
Prior to applying to graduate programs, you must choose an area of study to pursue. Often it is helpful to discuss different areas of specialization with your faculty, research options in the library, and consider what you want to do with your advanced degree. Other issues to think about include what the job market is like in your chosen field, types of jobs are available, and if the jobs "fit" with your career interests and goals.
In order to obtain the best education that fits your goals, choose which schools that you apply to carefully.
- Take the time to evaluate several schools that appear to offer programs that will meet your needs.
- Discuss the merits of different schools with faculty, conduct research in the library and talk to professionals already in that field.
- Ask what the leading programs are in your chosen field.
- Consider personal geographic preferences and restrictions.
- Check Web sites, including www.petersons.com/gradchannel; call or write for information on schools that fit your requirements.
- Determine what tests are required and when they are offered.
- Inquire about the cost and opportunities for financial assistance, assistantships, stipends, etc.
- If at all possible, make a campus visit. Meet with faculty and a few students to see if the atmosphere is conducive to furthering your academic goals.
- Look at areas of faculty research and program emphasis.
School/Program Selection - How Many?
Several factors, such as faculty, the program's reputation, university reputation, accreditation, your own qualifications, size, diversity, etc. may help you narrow down the number of applications to submit. Choose one very competitive program and one school where you are very likely to get in. Application fees are costly and application forms take time, so make sure that all schools you apply to meet your academic goals and economic circumstances.
*Adapted from the UCLA Career Center Web Site © 2004 at career.ucla.edu and printed in this text with permission from the Career Center, University of California, Los Angeles