“Should You Apply to Graduate School?” is taken from Get Your Game On. To download the complete guide, click here.
It’s not too early to start training for next year’s application marathon. If you’re considering a Master’s or PhD program, you can reduce stress later by putting in some serious mental work up front—now, before you start the actual application process.
The first question you need to ask, and it’s a big one, is: “Is this degree for me?”
How can you evaluate whether a degree program is for you? First, ask yourself why you want to go to grad school:
- Is it because you need a particular credential to pursue (or advance in) your chosen career?
- Is it because you envision a career in research (whether in academia or industry) and this program is the way to gain those advanced skills?
- Or is it because you’ve been in school all along and aren’t sure what else to do? Is your reason simply that grad school feels like the “next step” you ought to take?
Can you think ahead to your longer term goals? Be honest with yourself, and if your reasons for pursuing advanced study don’t ultimately seem compelling—in other words, if graduate study would just be a time-filler or a way of putting off thinking about your goals–you might want to reconsider.
If you have clear post-graduate goals, think critically about the financial impact of your decision. We’ve posted on the Accepted blog some discussion about the advisability of grad school in the Humanities; while that’s not a topic we’ll get into here, if your goal is to be a professor, you’ll probably want to take into account the health of the academic job market in your chosen field.
Now is also the time to make an honest evaluation of your credentials and preparation. Do you have the training you need to begin a grad program in your field, or will you need to shore up your skills in certain areas (such as languages or statistics) before applying?
Which Degree is Best for You?
As for deciding whether to pursue a PhD versus a Master’s degree, you’ll need to ask yourself:
- Are you the kind of person who thrives in the environment you’ll likely encounter in a PhD program? That is, do you enjoy research, and do you work well on your own?
- Are you organized and self-motivated?
- Are you prepared for the number of years that PhD study entails?
- Do your long-term goals require a PhD?
In the next post I’ll discuss how to focus your school search. What makes a program right for you?
Which program is best for you? Need help figuring it out? Check out our Graduate School Admissions Consulting Services and work one-on-one with your dedicated advisor who will help you define your educational and professional goals, choose programs wisely, and apply successful. Learn more hereBy Dr. Rebecca Blustein, former Accepted admissions consultant. Dr. Blustein has a BA and PhD from UCLA in English and Comparative Literature. She formerly worked as a Student Affairs Officer at UCLA’s Scholarship Resource Center where she gained experience guiding applicants in areas of admissions and funding. Dr. Blustein’s clients have been accepted to top Master’s and PhD programs in dozens of fields across all disciplines. Want an admissions expert help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Graduate School Statement of Purpose, a free guide
• How to Get Into Grad School, and Get Jobs After Grad School, a podcast episode
• Focus on Fit, a podcast episode
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