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June 10, 2022

Why go to graduate school? 5 Reasons To Go -- Or Skip -- Higher Education

Are you thinking about going to graduate school? If so, you're making a great decision! There are many reasons to go to graduate school, and in this blog post we will discuss the top 5. Whether you want to gain more knowledge in your field or increase your earning potential, graduate school can help you achieve your goals. Keep reading for more information on why you should attend graduate school!

Photography of people graduating

Reason 1: Sometimes, an undergraduate degree just isn't enough

In today's job market, an undergraduate degree is quickly becoming the new high school diploma. In order to stand out from the crowd, many job seekers are turning to graduate programs to gain the extra edge. While completing a graduate degree can be a time-consuming and expensive undertaking, the investment can pay off in the long run.

For example, those with a master's degree earn, on average, 20% more than those with just a bachelor's degree. Furthermore, those with a professional or doctoral degree earn even more. In addition to increased earnings potential, those with advanced degrees also enjoy greater job security and opportunities for career advancement. As the job market continues to evolve, it's clear that an advanced degree can give job seekers a significant advantage.

However, if you don't feel like spending your hard earned cash on an advanced degree, there are other ways that you can get the skills you need. Consider taking a MOOC, a short class, a graduate certificate, or even an internship to get the most relevant job skills. Speaking of...

Reason 2: You need specialized job skills

A graduate education can provide you with the specialized job skills that you need to succeed in your career. While many jobs only require a bachelor's degree, a graduate degree can give you an edge over the competition. For example, if you're interested in working in research or academia, a graduate degree is often required.

This is because graduate students are exposed to more techniques and knowledge domain than undergraduate students. Grad students may perform experiments, write papers, or even get paid to be a teaching or research assistant. For prospective graduate students, this on-the-job training can provide a real edge after you've left the program.

For example, I used my graduate degree to learn a little bit about everything: genetics, mapping, modeling, field work, and even greenhouse and plant care. That allowed me to look at any apply to many more job domains than if I had not been attending grad school. If there's a small employer looking for a specific skill, it's just plain easier for you to provide that service after you go to grad school.

Reason 3: There's an economic downturn or you're struggling in the job arena

If you've been affected by an economic downturn or are struggling to find work, there are a few things you can do to improve your situation. You may also want to consider going back to school or getting training for a new career. Although it may take some time and effort, making these changes can lead to a better future.

The benefits of going back to school are simple: when you're in school, any federal student loans end up pausing. Though be aware - they may still accrue interest. You can use student loans for living expenses if necessary. AND many times, schools may pay you as a teaching or research assistant, so you won't be entirely without an income.

However, be careful. Graduate tuition can be expensive, and you're risking your future wealth by accruing any student loan debt. So be sure to pick a program and career area that you feel good about. Nothing hurts me more than seeing my close friends graduating with an advanced degree and then NEVER using it because they realized that they didn't want to do the thing. I've seen it a few times with Psych and Education degrees, but it can happen to anyone.

Reason 4: Sometimes, grad school will pay for your living expenses

Graduate school is an investment of time and energy, but it can also be a significant financial investment. The average cost of tuition and fees for a graduate degree can range from $30,000 to $60,000, and that doesn’t even include the cost of living expenses. However, there are some ways to minimize the financial burden of graduate school.

One way is to look for programs that offer stipends or fellowships to help cover living expenses. Depending on the program, these stipends can range from a few thousand dollars to full tuition and living expenses. Some programs may also offer research or teaching assistantships as a way to help offset the cost of attendance.

This type of assistantship system is most common in the hard sciences. Be aware though, that this often does not include health insurance, and you'll still be on the hook for other adulting expenses: auto care, insurance, and housing. If you’re considering grad school, be sure to research the financial aid options available so that you can make the best decision for your future.

Reason 5: You need a career change

Making the decision to change careers can be a daunting task. There are many factors to consider, and it's important to make sure you're making the right choice for you. But if you're feeling stuck in your current career, grad school may be the perfect solution.

Grad school can help you make important connections. Many programs offer opportunities to network with other professionals in your field, which can be helpful when you're ready to start job-hunting. This is less true, however, if you're pursuing a remote job or plan to relocate after you finish your degree.

Grad school can also give you the confidence boost you need to make a successful career change. Going back to graduate school can be challenging, but it's also an excellent way to re-energize and remind yourself of your capabilities.

If you're considering a career change, grad school may be the perfect next step. With its ability to provide specialized knowledge, build professional networks, and boost confidence, grad school can set you up for success in your new career.

Differences between Graduate Degrees and Undergrad

If you hated undergrad, that doesn't mean you'll hate graduate schools. Very often, the type of experience you'll get in your advanced degree will be very different. You'll be in smaller classes, and your tasks for your graduate program will be more nuanced, relevant, and research focused.

You'll also have more time. Graduate students rarely have an overfull courseload because you'll also need to dedicate time to writing your thesis. So graduate degrees are a great option if you need a little bit of breathing room. If you're not sure though, talk to students that are already working in the graduate programs you're considering. Most current grad students are open and honest about their experiences.

Are you considering grad school? Let me know in the comments below! And if you need help choosing between graduate programs, I absolutely LOVE to mentor students. So reach out!

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