7 questions you should consider before applying to graduate school

It could be the best decision of your life. Answer these seven questions to find out.

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  • There tends to be a lot of uncertainty associated with the decision of graduate school. You may have many concerns that seem impossible to resolve. The reason it can be so challenging to settle these concerns is that graduate school can mean different things to different people.

  • In other words, experiences and purposes for getting a graduate degree are as unique as the people who receive them.

  • Here are seven questions that can help you better understand how graduate school will work for you:

  • 1. What am I going to achieve by going to graduate school?

  • There's a multitude of benefits you can gain from going to graduate school. It can help you gain credibility in your field, change careers, increase your earning potential, learn more and give you a better chance of being promoted. In order to use graduate school to help you achieve these goals, you need to define your objective. This will allow you to tailor your experience to your needs.

  • 2. What is the job market like in my field of study?

  • Before investing your time, effort and money in a graduate program, you should evaluate the job market you hope to enter with your degree. In most fields, a graduate degree will help you get an edge in your job search and be more successful during your employment. However, evaluating what the job market will look like on the other side of graduation will help you make a wise decision about which area of study you should pursue.

  • 3. How am I going to pay for grad school?

  • Oftentimes, people put off graduate school because they feel that they don't have enough money. What they don't realize is that there are a variety of strategies they can use to avoid paying those steep prices. For example, most schools offer TAships, stipends for research and scholarships. Not only that, but if you are already employed, your company may be willing to pay for your education.

  • 4. Why do I want to do this now?

  • Timing is everything. You may have pressing reasons to go to graduate school right now. For example, you might finally be financially stable, ready to take a break from your career or have extra time on your hands. Whatever the current circumstances may be, you can't ensure a better opportunity will come along in the future.

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  • 5. How will graduate school affect my spouse, children or significant others?

  • Your decision to go to graduate school will impact people close to you. Even though your choice to go to grad school may be a challenge for people you are close to, it doesn't mean the consequences are negative. You will have to learn to stay on task and prioritize, but it can be a valuable opportunity for the people in your life as well as for yourself.

  • 6. Should I go to school full time or part time?

  • You shouldn't feel like being a full-time student is your only option. This may be the best choice for you because it allows you to complete grad school quickly. However, you can also look into the option of completing grad school through a part-time program that is a more manageable time commitment for some people.

  • 7. Will I succeed in this program?

  • If you don't believe in yourself, who will? Evaluate if you feel you can be successful in the program you are choosing to enter. (Hint: If you want to be successful and choose to work for it, you will be.)

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Melinda Fox has a bachelor's degree in English and is a member of the FamilyShare content team. She loves Shakespeare, listening to her favorite songs on repeat and journaling.

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