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Are you contemplating applying to graduate school? It’s a big decision no matter if you’re wrapping up your undergraduate career or already out in the workforce. Graduate study can offer many benefits to your career, but it also takes a lot of time, money, and hard work. Before you blindly start filling out paperwork and signing up for the GRE or automatically cross it off your list of possibilities, consider the following questions.
Will the Cost of Graduate School Outweigh Your Future Salary Potential?
You should never incur debt without making sure it’s a calculated risk. Paying off student loans is no joke. Graduate school is typically more expensive than undergrad, and there are fewer scholarship opportunities. Step back and look at the whole cost of your chosen master’s program over the course of those three-or-so years without calculating in the financial assistance you hope you have.
Now do some research on how much money you will realistically make after graduate school. Will a master’s degree significantly up your earning potential? Will you be able to make enough money to pay your rent/mortgage, car payment, living expenses, and student loans? If you won’t be able to absolutely make enough money to pay for your master’s degree, then that degree likely isn’t necessary. For example, the earning potential for a literature professor isn’t much higher than the earning potential for an editor with a bachelor’s degree. One of those comes with significant student loan debt, however.
Will You Need Additional Degrees After You Complete a Master’s?
In today’s professional world, a master’s degree isn’t always enough. If you want to be a professor, you will likely need to have a doctorate degree as well. Take time to think about your ultimate career goal and whether or not a master’s degree is enough to get you there. This way you are prepared for the amount of time it will take you to complete everything and just how much money you’ll really be spending. It will have an impact on which schools you apply for and push you to hunt down and apply for every scholarship you can.
If you will need additional education post-master’s degree, make sure that’s something you’re up for. If it’s for a career you’re super passionate about, then, by all means, go for it. But if you’re just trying to get a career that pays really well, then consider maybe trying a different career that pays as much but requires less time and debt.
Do You Actually Need to go to Graduate School?
We’re all about self-improvement and being educated here at Earn Spend Live, but in the same breath, we’re also realistic. If graduate school is the only way to get to where you want to be professionally then please march on forward. It’s best to be 150% sure that it is though. There are certain fields where a master’s degree really doesn’t help you that much, if at all. For example, the business field is heavily saturated with employee prospects who have their master’s. And while those degrees are valuable, they aren’t imperative. Sometimes the years you could have spent working is even more valuable.
Something to consider is the fact you might be considering graduate school simply because the real world is scary AF. And yes, leaving college to join a world of bills and actual consequences is terrifying. That’s not the best reason to spend money on entrance exams and application fees (plus tuition and books and what not), though. If you’re just not sure either way, then take a year or two off of school and gain some real world experience first. You can always revisit the idea of graduate school after a little break, a lot of growing, and some serious life experience.