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How Do You Know a Graduate Degree is for You?

When we graduate high school most of us go to college (or 68.3 percent to be exact according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). We agonize over where we want to go, but the end game for many is college. Yet after we graduate, the path isn’t so clear. Some are offered jobs, some move home and others choose to continue their education— either to pursue academia or a specified career.

With the current job market many recent graduates are faced with a difficult question: is there a benefit in delaying the job search to get a master’s, doctorate, J.D., etc.?

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in May that there’s a subgroup of those in academia with advanced degrees that rely on welfare to subsidize their wages. Student loans, low wages and more contribute to the 360,000 Americans with master’s degrees or higher who received aid in 2010.

So how do you know if a graduate degree is right for you?

Idealist has a great page on the pros and cons of getting a graduate education, including additional information for those who do make the decision to apply to grad school. Listed below are Idealist’s reasons NOT to apply to grad school:

  • To  avoid personal/family/financial obligations
  • To avoid difficulty in the job hunt
  • You are dissatisfied with your current employment
  • You don’t know what to do with your life
  • You think a graduate degree is necessary for your next steps
  • You have always been curious about X
  • You have always wanted to live in X

While some of the reasons listed seemed commonplace, others surprised me. At various times when I have contemplated a graduate degree I have sought out information because of current job dissatisfaction, difficulties finding a job, a love of London and a reason to move there. Idealist’s list is fairly extensive and covers a number of bases for why people go to graduate school and why not to pursue that route.

There are plenty of good reasons to get an advanced degree and it is a personal decision. If you don’t know what to do with your life, and you can afford the education, then I say more power to you. Education is a great tool no matter the reason. However, before jumping into the expensive world of advanced degrees it might be wise to come up with four or five solid reasons why you wish to purse that additional degree. If you can, congrats! And good luck with even more school!

Did you recently decide to go to graduate school? Were any of these above reasons NOT to part of your reason? Let us know in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of PowerScore

Jen Schiller

Jen works as a Marketing Project Manager for a restaurant, a kitchen assistant for cooking classes, helps with database management, does some freelance writing, and more. She received her B.A. from the University of Maryland in Government & Politics in 2011. Currently, she resides in the Washington, D.C. area and is an avid sports fan.

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