After almost two decades in education, most college students are more than ready to head to the “real world,” where they can devote all their time to making money and enjoying life. Likely, you felt this way when you graduated with your bachelor’s degree and acquired a job with your available credentials.
However, after some time away from academia, you might be considering a return to school. Here are a few signs you might look for to determine whether grad school is a smart choice for you:
Table of Contents
- You Won’t Be Avoiding the “Real World”
- You Recognize the Value of a Graduate Degree
- You Need More Credentials to Advance in Your Career
- You are Tired of Earning Less Than You Could
- You Can Maintain an Open Mind
- You are Ready to Compete in Academia
- You Function Relatively Well in Isolation
- You Feel Passionately About Your Degree Subject
You Won’t Be Avoiding the “Real World”
Many students fresh out of their bachelor’s programs flee to graduate school in an attempt to delay their entry into the real world. If you have experience in the real world, working full-time to support yourself, then your re-entry into academia likely is not an attempt to avoid the inevitable responsibility awaiting you after you earn your master’s degree.
You Recognize the Value of a Graduate Degree
A graduate degree is an incredibly useful tool — but it is imperative that you can employ that tool in your career. Without a purpose in your career, your graduate degree will merely be an expensive experience. By considering the value of the degree and how it can change your life for the better, you will be poised to make the most of your grad school experience.
You Need More Credentials to Advance in Your Career
The best reason to return to grad school is that your career demands higher education credentials than you currently have. Many career paths require a master’s degree at minimum; if you work in psychology, for example, you absolutely need an online master’s in psychology to function in the field. If you are uncertain whether you will need advanced credentials, you might meet with a mentor or a career counselor to learn more about your intended career path.
You are Tired of Earning Less Than You Could
Research shows again and again that the higher your level of education, the greater your earning potential. The estimated lifetime earnings of a man with a bachelor’s degree is about $2.19 million, but with a master’s degree, that same man can earn over $2.68 million — nearly half a million more. Graduate school could be a relatively fast way to qualify you for the high-paying roles of your dreams.
You Can Maintain an Open Mind
Graduate school is not a good place to confirm your existing beliefs. With research, human knowledge is constantly changing, and in graduate-level classrooms, professors are exposing students to brand-new concepts that have the potential to alter their entire worldviews. It is imperative that you enter grad school with the ability to change your mind, as it might be essential for using your knowledge and skill when you return to the real world.
You are Ready to Compete in Academia
You might think of academia as a lazy space filled with nerds focused on their own intellectual improvement, but the truth is that high-level academic environments are cutthroat. The competition you experience in graduate school will be likely more aggressive than anything you have experienced. Students fight for grades, for research opportunities, for conference visits and more, so you need to be prepared to compete with your classmates.
You Function Relatively Well in Isolation
Undergraduate college experiences are all about socializing, and many universities organize dozens of events to help students meet and develop lifelong relationships. Graduate school is much more focused on the academic achievement of students, and the rampant competition can make students feel completely and utterly alone. You should invest in your social circle before you begin your grad school experience, as you are unlikely to find social support from your classmates.
You Feel Passionately About Your Degree Subject
Passion is not essential for a successful career, but it certainly helps drive your performance in grad school. If you do not feel an internal motivation to continue your studies, it will be difficult to continue engaging with your classes for months or years into the future.
Graduate school is an excellent stepping stone to a successful career – but only if you have good reasons for pursuing this powerful credential. Before you enroll in a grad program, you should think critically about why you want a master’s degree to ensure that you can put your experience to good use.