Deciding whether or not to pursue a graduate degree is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life. Unfortunately, there’s no textbook answer for how to decide whether you should go to grad school. A few things, however, can help zero you in on the optimal choice.
What’s Your Current Work and School Situation?
Everyone is different and working with a unique situation. There’s far too much nuance between each person’s life to say it’s right or wrong to go to grad school on its face. Those who want to make an educated—pun intended—decision regarding their post-graduate studies need to take a holistic view.
Within there are a few things worth considering:
- What’s your current employment outlook? If you’re happy with your work and compensation, maybe it’s best to be content with what you have—especially if going back to school would be a full-time affair. At the same time, those who feel under-employed, that they’ll be more marketable, or be able to get a major salary boost, can potentially benefit from going to grad school.
- Do you want to change fields? Those looking to break into a new career might be able to expedite this process (or be required by regulation) by receiving an advanced degree. Those who want to practice law, work as a doctor or therapist, or in many other advanced fields, won’t be able to make inroads without a graduate school education.
- Did you just finish undergrad? Those with highly specific goals will likely want to immediately move onto the next step—such as those pursuing medical careers. On the other hand, if you’re looking at grad school simply because you’re lacking direction, taking some time away from school might be a better option considering the costs of graduate school. This is one of the top pieces of advice from grad school reddit posts.
Once you’ve made the decision grad school is right for you, it’s time to decide how you’ll pay for it.
How Will You Pay for It?
Paying for grad school can be a tricky process. Unlike with undergraduate loans, the federal government doesn’t provide many appealing subsidies and programs for individuals paying for grad school. A student loan refinance of your existing debt (if any) might make it easier to manage. What is refinancing? Basically taking on a new loan to consolidate multiple outstanding obligations to derive some financial benefit. Sometimes it works; sometimes there are better strategies to implement.
Oftentimes, for graduate school loans, borrowers can actually find better deals through private lenders than through the federal government. Juno is acompany that can help those going back to school get the best rate on a grad school loan. Instead of being a lender themselves, Juno takes bids from a huge group of companies trying to get access to their list of members. Only the best deals out there are recommended by Juno.
No matter how or why you’re planning to go back to school, you’ll want to get the best possible deal on your loan. Otherwise, you can end up with more debt than you bargained for after the fact.
Are there Alternatives?
As mentioned earlier, there are certain situations where it makes perfect sense to go to graduate school, particularly when it’s a requirement for you to be able to work in your chosen field. But now, more than ever, you might be able to find an alternative to grad school that will be more cost-effective, while still getting the job done. Here are a couple options worth looking into:
- Bootcamps – While not quite militaristic, taking a bootcamp to learn or improve a skill can be an intense experience due to the amount you learn in a concentrated period of time. However, it can also help you develop yourself in a fraction of the time at only a small part of the cost.
- Free online courses – Though many won’t be as comprehensive or of as high a quality as more traditional graduate studies, taking massive open online courses (MOOCs) can be a great way to further your understanding on a subject without having to pay big bucks for it. At the same time, the lack of someone holding you accountable can make it difficult to find motivation to complete courses.
There’s a lot you should take into consideration before going to grad school. Many will realize it’s the right decision for them; but others will be better served by spending their time and money elsewhere.