Congratulations! You’ve decided to go to graduate school, now what? Deciding to go to graduate school is a big decision, which is why I recommend answering these 4 questions first: Why, what, where, and how? By figuring out all these answers, you will be able to go into graduate school confident that you are doing what is best for you and your future.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already answered the first question: “Why?” Why do you want to go to graduate school? Maybe you want to have more opportunities in your career, or maybe you need an advanced degree to get the career you want; just be confident in your “why.”
The next thing you need to think about if you haven’t already is “what” – what type of graduate degree do you want or need? There are many options including post-graduate certificates, master’s degrees (M.A., M.S., M.B.A.), doctoral degrees (Ph.D., Psy. D), and professional degrees (J.D., M.D., D.O., D.D.S., etc.). Your “why” will help you decide what type of degree is best for you.
Once you’ve figured out why you want to go to grad school and what type of degree you need, then you have to decide where to go to school. Much like applying to undergraduate schools, you should consider availability of your degree program, cost, length of schooling, location, accreditation, etc. Additionally, you should consider applying to multiple schools or programs. Graduate programs are very specialized so choosing a program or school that fits you is essential to your happiness and success.
Last, but not least, the big how question: how do you afford grad school? Surprisingly, there are many options for financing advanced degrees. Much like undergraduate schooling, you can apply for loans, grants, and scholarships. Some graduate schools or programs offer evening classes, so students can work as well as go to school. Additionally, graduate schools may offer graduate assistantships as a form of financial assistance. Graduate assistantships are on-campus jobs that pay for your tuition and sometimes a stipend too. Typically, graduate assistantships are considered part-time jobs and fall into one of three general categories: administrative, teaching, or research. Not all grad schools offer graduate assistantships so if you are interested in this type of opportunity, be sure to research or ask someone at your prospective school.
Graduate school can be difficult but extremely rewarding. Deciding to go is a big step, just make sure you take all these questions into consideration before applying to schools/programs. What type of degree are you getting? Where are you going to go to grad school? And how will you afford grad school? These are important questions you need to consider before making a commitment to spend your time and money on an advanced degree. If you need help discussing graduate school, advisors in the Warrior Success Center are happy to help.
– Alexis Olson, Career Services Graduate Assistant, Warrior Success Center