Deciding to Attend Graduate School

Deciding whether or not to attend graduate school is an important, life-changing decision. So before you choose to take the plunge into graduate school, you need to determine what your goals and interests are and ask yourself some questions to be sure that you are prepared for the commitment and are attending for the right reasons.

Reasons to go:

  • A graduate degree is required for entry into a career (e.g. law, medicine, university teaching).
  • You have a particularly strong interest in a subject area, either to advance in a career or for personal satisfaction.

Reasons NOT to go:

  • To please someone else.
  • To avoid a tight job market.
  • You don't know what you want to do.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Where do I want to be in three to five years? Do I need a graduate degree to get there?
  • How long does it take to complete a typical program in this field?
  • Are there other things going on in my life that would prevent me from being focused?
  • What is the likelihood that I would have to relocate in order to find a program that I like? Am I willing to do that?
  • What do I expect to be the result of this degree (e.g. higher paying job, more satisfying work, personal enrichment)? Am I familiar with the variety of positions held by individuals with advanced degrees in my area of interest?
  • Do my achievements and academic background reflect the ability to successfully complete a graduate degree?