Going to grad school is an important decision that takes up a lot of resources. While there are perks to pursuing higher education—we're definitely all for investing in yourself—here are some questions you need to ask yourself before considering such a venture.
Why am I going back to school?
You may decide to go back to school because you are stuck in a rut or bored with work. In that case, it might be better to take a short holiday instead. However, going back to school may be useful for people who want to be promoted, or are looking for a career change. An additional degree boosts your resume for both reasons.
Can I devote enough time to it?
Going back to school means going back to homework. Oftentimes it is not easy—it is higher education after all. Do you have enough time to study for exams? As much as possible, you would like to avoid having to redo subjects that you failed at. Ask yourself as well what kind of pace you would like to have for grad school. Some degrees have part-time tracks that have lighter workload but also take longer to finish.
What kind of degree do I want?
For people who want to advance in the corporate ladder, an MBA or other types of executive education is more appropriate. For those who want to become lecturers or researchers, working towards a PhD in your field of interest is the way to go. There are benefits to looking at other fields as well. For instance, an engineer may take an interest in economics and end up as an urban planner. These are non-standard career options that only become apparent after mastery of two different fields.
How can I fund my education?
Graduate school can be expensive without a scholarship. Those who are looking for a career change will likely have to fund themselves. Do you save enough to pay the fees? It is important that what you expect to gain will be worth at least the initial investment. You can also look around for scholarships inside and outside the country. Sometimes, schools offer scholarships to students who do well on the admission exams or if their income is low enough. If you work for a company, they may also fund your schooling in exchange for a bond of several years.
Am I prepared to take it?
Grad school is all about new challenges but that doesn’t mean that you have to go unprepared. In general you have to pass an admission test before going through with the degree. Brush up on standard exam materials. Some fields have more specialized exams (such as math, for instance). It may be a good time to take a closer look at your desired field. If you are taking up literature, it might be a good time to revisit the classic texts.
Am I ready to take on an independent journey?
There is more to grad school than test-taking. Depending on the program, one may be expected to write a dissertation on one’s subject of choice. Contrary to other life experiences, there are very few real references that you can use to write your thesis. The output is not always well-defined at the start and you are basically alone even if you have a thesis supervisor. This is because you are working on a new field that few people have explored. Be prepared to become frustrated from time to time.