There are many reasons someone might go to graduate school: earning a higher salary, having more opportunities, or maybe your career choice requires an advanced degree. It is a hard decision to make and takes a lot of consideration. If you are still unsure if grad school is right for you, that’s okay! The best way to decide what is best for you is to research and learn more about your options. My choice to go to graduate school came after a lot of research about my desired field. 

I’ve wanted to be a counselor since middle school, I wavered slightly through high school debating similar options, but I always came back to counseling. did a lot of research on different types of counseling fields and found that nearly all of them require at least a master’s degree. So, going into college, I knew I wanted to get a Master’s degree eventually. Unfortunately, my undergraduate advisor was not very supportive; my junior year I met with my advisor to get my registration code. They asked about my post-graduation plans, and I told them I was going to be applying to graduate schools. The response I got was, “you may want to consider other options because your GPA is too low to get into any graduate schools”.  

To say I felt defeated is an understatementI remember going home and calling my parents crying telling them I would never be able to achieve my dreams of helping others through counseling. But, with my family and friend’s encouragement, I pushed forward. I worked hard to get my GPA as high as I could and applied to multiple graduate schools. Wouldn’t you know it, I was accepted to multiple graduate programs with only a slightly higher GPA than the one my advisor told me would never cut it.  

I am currently in my second year of the school counseling master’s program and to be frank, I am doing very well academically. I don’t say this to “show off” but to try to prove that your GPA doesn’t always reflect your success. In my case, I had a hard time adjusting to college my freshman year and honestly struggled in some of the general education courses (I am not a science person). This bad start to college really affected my GPA from the beginning. But working hard, especially in the major related courses, really helped get my GPA to the point where I could go to graduate school and get one step closer to my dream job. 

For other people, going to graduate school may open more opportunities. For example, if you have a degree in business administration but you really aspire to be CEO of a company, you may consider getting an advanced degree. If you are wondering about opening more career opportunities, don’t feel like you must go to graduate school right now. Depending on the company and schooling, you could potentially climb the career ladder faster than earning an advanced degree. Researching your specific field or even the company you want to work for is the best way to decide if grad school is right for you to open more career opportunities. 

Some people feel that getting an advanced degree will increase their salary. This may be true, but it may not – some companies value work experience and education differently. Depending on where you work, or where you want to work, getting an advanced degree may not be as beneficial as getting into the workforce. Again, researching your specific field or company is going to be your best option to decide if you need an advanced degree to increase your salary. You don’t want to waste your money and time getting another degree if you won’t get compensated for it. Use your time wisely – are you going to make more money on a salary increase from spending a year getting a master’s degree or a year working for the company?  

Going to graduate school isn’t always an easy choice or option. The first step in knowing if grad school is right for you is answering, why do I want to go to graduate school?”. If you’ve decided grad school is the right path for you, then you can start to think about where, when, and how you will get there. Check out my next blog post, “Grad school is right for me, now what?” for more help answering your questions about grad school. You can also make an appointment with an advisor in the Warrior Success Center to discuss grad school options. 

Check out our “I’ve Decided to Attend Grad School, Now What?” blog post!

–  Alexis Olson, Career Services Graduate Assistant, Warrior Success Center