As you consider the possibility of graduate school, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I need a graduate degree to work in my field?
- Do I need to get a graduate degree now? (For example, MBA programs often require students to have work experience prior to beginning their business education)
- What I am going to gain from my graduate degree and what is the cost (time, money, stress, etc.) for me to pursue this goal?
- Am I able and willing to absorb the costs of this course of action to achieve the end goal?
- Am I truly committed to this course of study and am I able to see myself immersed in this subject?
- Am I willing to prepare myself for graduate school by fulfilling whatever requirements are necessary (extra languages, standardized tests, writing samples, practical experience, etc.) for admittance?
Talk to your academic adviser, the career counselor, your family, alumni, and a member of your expected profession to solicit their advice about which program best fits your goals.
- GRE (Graduate Record Exam) – When available, test dates will be posted online. Additional information may be found at GRE Online.
- GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) – Learn more about the Graduate Management Admissions Test for complete information about the GMAT, ways to prepare for it, and hotlinks to the Web sites of more than 500 graduate management programs.
- LSAT (Law School Admission Test) – Test data and additional information may be obtained at the ISAC Web site.
- MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) – Test dates and additional information may be obtained at the AAMC Web site.
- DAT (Dental Admissions Test) – Read more about the Dental Admissions Test for complete information about the DAT and ways to prepare for it.
*Remember that most registration deadlines are usually 4-6 weeks in advance of test dates.
Students decide to go to graduate school for many reasons, not all of which are sound.
Reason # 1
Many students consider graduate school because they do not know what to do after graduation and believe that a few more years in a university setting will give them the time to figure something out. Of all the reasons to go to school, this one has to be the worst. A graduate education is a very serious, very demanding, very time consuming, and often very expensive undertaking which should not be entered into without a true commitment to the area of study. If you are confused about what do with your life, you might consider finding a job which interests you and work there until you are certain of your next step.
Sometimes people go to graduate school to earn more money. This strategy is only partially successful. Some graduate programs will enhance your earning potential tremendously, while others provide no real gain to your financial situation and, in fact, can be detrimental in terms of time, lost wages, and tuition dollars.
One of the best reasons to attend a graduate school is to obtain a specialized education for a specific profession or discipline. Many careers require more training than is provided in a general college education. For example:
- Law: To become an attorney, you will need an additional three years of education in one of the country’s 187+ ABA (American Bar Association) approved law schools. Some law schools also offer evening programs for students who need to maintain a full-time job; this course of study usually lasts four to five years.
- Medicine: To become a doctor, you will need an additional four years of education at medical school, two or more years of residency at a hospital, and perhaps four to six more years to develop a specialty (e.g. neurology, ophthalmology, etc.). Careers in the allied health fields (physical therapy, psychology, speech pathology, etc.) also require additional education ranging from master’s degrees to Ph.D.s.
- Business: To succeed in business does not require an MBA, contrary to popular belief, but an advanced business degree does accelerate one’s progress through the ranks of a corporation and usually results in a higher salary level. Traditional MBA programs involve two years of full-time education, but business schools are increasingly accommodating the need for part-time programs which allow you to earn a degree in three to five years of evening and weekend classes. Almost all business schools suggest that you work for two or more years before beginning a business degree.
- Academic Disciplines: This category is purposefully broad since it covers college and university teaching, educational administration, research institutions, advanced engineering, the fine arts, architecture (the list continues). All of these professions require more education than can be provided at the college level, though their specific degrees are varied in length.