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Should You Go To Grad School?

Bored with your job and thinking of something new? Grad school might be the answer. But it might not. Here's how to tell.

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Is grad school right for you?

Graduate school is a giant commitment of both your money and your life for several years. Is it the right path for you? Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I need a graduate credential to advance in my job?

If you will will get a faster track to the top or more money with a graduate degree, it might be worth the time and money to get a master's degree.

2. Am I looking to change careers?

This one may depend on what you are looking to go in to. Consider if you need the graduate degree or is the easier, and often cheaper certification from a technical or community college sufficient?

3. Am I looking at a career field that values formal education, or are skills what matters more?

If you want to be a nurse, formal education is required. If you want to design web sites, not so much, as long as you can prove you can do the job.

4. Do I have the discipline to work on my own to learn what I need?

If you can use free resources like books and websites to learn required skills, are you actually going to do that? Or do you need the accountability of a class to show up at and the expertise of a professor to guide you to the most important learning resources to stay on the right path?

5. If you are thinking of a doctorate, do you love research for its own rewards?

The job market for academics in a lot of fields, especially liberal arts, is quite tough to succeed in. Are you getting a Ph.D. for a field that is unlikely to hire you full-time when you finish? If so, does your passion for your topic mean that your years of study will enrich your life, even you can't get a job in the field later? Then graduate school might be for you.

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