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Is Grad School Right for You? (Part 2)

Erick Widman - Saturday, February 06, 2010

Continuing upon last week’s theme, this blog post explores another crucial question that potential grad school applicants should consider.

What are my ultimate career goals, and will earning a graduate degree be relevant to attaining such goals?

Particularly in this difficult economy, in which many well-educated college graduates find it difficult to procure employment, enrolling in a graduate program can be a very appealing option. In fact, some applicants might be taking the plunge simply in order to avoid the current discouraging job market. However, graduate school is a hefty investment in terms of time and money, leaving some students potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt after graduation.

Thus, you should carefully evaluate your professional goals. This may be an extremely difficult decision to make and requires much time spent contemplating your future, being as honest with yourself as possible. You must determine the career you intend to pursue, and then consider the possible avenues you could take in order to attain this career.

Is it absolutely necessary for you to earn a graduate degree in order to achieve your career goals? For example, someone who wishes to be a doctor must attend medical school, just as an individual who seeks to become a practicing attorney must attend law school. However, suppose you are interested in pursuing a career in the non-profit sector as a director; is an MBA truly the most appropriate degree to earn? Depending on your specific circumstances, it may very well be. For others, enrolling in an MBA program may not be the best option, especially if a career in the non-profit sector may make it more difficult for you to pay back the loans incurred by a prestigious MBA program.   

In short, you should only commit to a graduate program if you are certain that this is the necessary (and feasible) next step in your life and that it will bring you closer to attaining your career goals.

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