Going to graduate school is an important investment and life decision. It isn’t arrived at easily. One of the decisions you may find yourself facing is whether or not to stay at your undergraduate alma mater to complete your graduate studies. Make sure you carefully weigh the pros and cons of that decision.
1) Probably the most significant positive in attending graduate school at your undergraduate institution is you don’t have to move. The pursuit of a graduate degree can often meet uprooting yourself and moving to a different state sometimes quite far away. This constitutes a significant expense, means going to the trouble of having to find a new place to live and completely start over. If you are fortunate to have attended undergraduate school at a university that has a graduate program you’re interested in, it may be the most economic choice to stay where you are.
2) To accompany the personal comfort of staying in the same school, you will still be able to take advantage of resident tuition rates. Graduate school is quite a bit more expensive than undergraduate school and cost often plays a big role in your decision. Keeping your residency status and taking advantage of in state tuition may be enough of a reason to stay at your alma mater.
3) Another pro is that you know the department and they know you. Knowing your faculty can be a plus when you’re in graduate school because their mentorship is so much more important at that level. When you switch schools you have to begin again establishing relationships with a new faculty and this can take time. The relationship you already have with the department’s faculty members could work well in your favor as various opportunities come along. They know what you are looking for and working towards and may be able to better steer you in the right direction.
1) The first strike against staying at you undergraduate school for your graduate studies is redundancy. You could find yourself taking classes that mirror the classes you took as an undergraduate. You will also be taking classes from the same instructors you just spent four years with. This can be a comfortable situation but it may not be a very interesting one.
2) Even though your school has a graduate program in your field of interest it may not be the program for you. If you find yourself making a decision to stay at your undergraduate school in a graduate program that doesn’t fit your needs you won’t get your money’s worth. Make sure this is the program you really want to be involved in.
3) Staying at your undergraduate school may mean that you aren’t challenged and therefore aren’t very motivated. Graduate school is about branching off in new exciting directions with your studies and research. If you know exactly how your classes will be conducted and who will be teaching them you may not find much to interest you.
There are more factors to examine when deciding whether or not to stay at your undergraduate school for graduate studies. These will be unique to the school and the environment. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to go some place new and different and graduate school may be your opportunity to do so. Make sure you investigate a number of programs so you can focus on the ones that really will give you what you’re seeking.