In deciding on graduate school there are many factors to consider:
Decisions to be Made
How will I fund my graduate program?
Funding may come from (or a combination) of personal savings, employer funding (loans or grants), family resources, loans (family or otherwise), scholarships or grants.
Should I commit to part-time or full-time studies?
Especially where the financial consideration is a big issue, this question takes on increased importance. Thankfully, especially with the advent of the internet, many programs allow part-time study.
What is my best option in terms of institution?
The choice of institution, in many instances, can affect salary and ultimately social standing and prestige. It is, therefore, advisable to do research (much information is available on the internet), discuss with more experienced folk or talk to trusted friends. Additionally, don’t be afraid to request, at the appropriate time, an interview with the intuitions themselves.
Do I have the time to commit to this program?
Graduate studies are very taxing in terms of time. It is very important that you address from the very outset, especially if there are work or family commitments, how exactly you will be able to effectively manage your time.
What is my objective in pursuing this program?
Asking this question can help in deciding if graduate studies or the particular program is for you. One should be very clear as to how the program will increase the chances of finding a job, how it will enhance the chances of promotion, how it may impact pay increases, and how it will satisfy other personal needs.
How easy will it be for me to attend classes?
In some instances the best fit in terms of course of study may not be in close proximity. The impact on cost and other responsibilities in this case must be taken into consideration. Even with part-time studies, programs may very well require some physical attendance in fulfillment of the program’s requirements.
What are the alternatives available to me?
Don’t commit to furthering your education just out of meeting other people’s expectations or because it’s the right thing to do. In many instances, taking the risk with that crazy business idea, a la Bill Gates, maybe more than worth it.
The Advantages of Pursuing Graduate Studies
1. Fulfilling self-actualization needs Going to graduate school is a great way to achieve personal growth and fulfillment (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs).
2. Going to graduate school is a sure way to boost overall educational qualifications and improve one’s ability to compete in the job market.
3. Graduate students, by and large, can command a higher rate of pay and are much better placed for future promotions and pay increases.
4. It enhances social standing and prestige especially in societies where educational titles count for a lot.
5. It enhances significantly, one’s approach to problem solving by developing the ability to think and reason.
6. It improves the scope to take on greater responsibility in the work place and because of the in-built stress factor in many graduate programs, significantly improves the ability to multi-task and cope with stress.
The Disadvantages of Pursuing Graduate Studies
Graduate school is seen by some as just a way to reinforce a structured way of thinking which stifles initiative and creativity. In many instances, this is justified by very successful people who have no formal education or even if they do, chose not to complete graduate school.
The decision to pursue graduate studies may be at the expense of a once in a lifetime opportunity.
For those who decide to work while pursuing graduate studies, it can mean increased levels of stress, poor on-the-job performance or even dismissal.
It can also mean postponing starting a family or result in the erosion of existing family and other kinds of relationships.
Finally, committing to graduate school, in many instances, postpones one’s earning potential in the near-term to the detriment of a decent standard of living and meeting family financial commitments.