|2009 Graduate School Commencement (Photo credit: pennstatenews)|
There are many factors to consider when beginning graduate school, including finances, emotional preparedness, other significant time commitments such as family, and focus and motivation.
If you're debating about whether to take the plunge, here are four things to consider:
America's student loan debt is currently in the trillions. Yikes! Do you have savings? Will your family gift you a portion of your tuition? Will you be working during graduate school?
Can you obtain grants, scholarships, fellowships, and / or teaching assistantships? What is the average return on investment from grad school for graduates in your field?
All of these factors should play a role in your decision whether to start soon or delay the process for a year or two.
What have you been doing recently? If you've been in active duty, college, or in some other kind of demanding job or situation, you might need a break before stepping into the high-intensity grind that is grad school. But just how long a break you require is up to you.
If you can afford it, taking the summer - or even a month - off before grad school might do the trick. Others need longer to decompress.
And still others know that if they step off the hamster wheel, chances are good that they'll never get back on. These are the people that need to keep the momentum going and proceed straight to school.
The tricky part? Only you know what you need. Spend some time considering what's really going to benefit you in the long run.
3. Other commitments
A young, single individual who's financially stable has a good chance of being able to devote him or herself exclusively to graduate studies. Those juggling partners, kids, and perhaps even a job may have a more difficult time of it.
That's absolutely not to say that people in committed relationships with offspring shouldn't go back to graduate school - only that they should be well aware of what they're getting into.
For those people, a graduate program that may increase their earning ability might actually be a very wise decision in the long run.
4. Focus and motivation
Do you know exactly what you want to study? Do you have a good sense of how you'll apply it to a career post-graduation (while knowing that of course can shift)? Do you have a good track record of finishing projects? You're probably a good candidate for grad school.
Are you unsure of what you want to study, but you know you want more initials after your name? Are you looking for a way out of unemployment? Do you tend to start things and leave them half-finished?
It might be advisable for you to delay graduate school - a significant investment of time, energy, and money - until you have clarity regarding what you want to study and motivation to finish the degree.
Visit www.GradSchools.com and find a graduate program that is right for you!
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