When is the best time to apply to graduate school? This is going to depend on a number of very individual factors – your goals, your experience, your qualifications, and others. Are you ready to take on the application process? Are you ready to go back to school? Can your work-life balance fit school into the equation? Can you afford to head back to school? Do you really need this degree? Do you really need this degree now? You have some big questions to ask yourself and some big decisions to make!
Let’s take a look at one of the most important questions – the now or later question.
Here are 6 reasons why you should apply to grad school right now:
1. You are working towards a goal
You have a specific goal that requires a graduate degree, be it an MBA, MD, JD, or any other combo of letters. You need this graduate degree to further your position towards or complete your goal.
2. You are ready for some serious job growth
You feel you are stagnating in your current position and having a degree can lead to either growth in your current job or new job opportunities.
3. You’re ready to study
You are excited about the prospect of two (or four or ten) more years of study towards your professional goal. You’re ready to shift your mindset to study-mode, and while it may be difficult to get back into the swing of tests and studying and writing papers, you’re eager to jump in and learn more to reach your goal.
4. You have the work experience
You have the level of experience desired by the graduate programs you are targeting.
5. You have the qualifications
You’ve done your research, and are confident that your grades, test scores, work/volunteer experience, and extracurriculars will measure up with other applicants to make you a competitive applicant.
6. You are being financially responsible
You have the means (or know-how to acquire the means) to pay for your education. You’ve done your due diligence to look into scholarships, grants, sponsorships, loans, or any other financial assistance that you will need to attend school, pay your bills, etc.
Goals: Don’t go any further without them
Reason #1 above is an absolute requirement for graduate admissions. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about MBA admissions, medical school admissions, graduate school, or law school admissions, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to do at the other end of the graduate study tunnel. For MBAs, that goal has to be fairly specific. For future doctors, lawyers, and other professionals, the goal can be a little more general, but still must require the education you are seeking.
Reasons #2-6 are not sufficient reasons on their own to pursue a graduate education, but in combination with #1 they are good indicators that now is a propitious time to apply.
These are 6 reasons why you should wait to apply to grad school:
1. You hate your job
You should search for a new job, not a new degree.
2. You don’t want to get a job
Hiding behind education because you’re too afraid/lazy/insecure to work is never a good idea. You’ll be blowing a whole lot of money on something you don’t really need, and guess what happens when you’re done with your education…you need to work. Welcome to being an adult.
3. Your parents offered to pay for it
This was very generous of your parents, but your best bet would be to say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” at least for now. People don’t pursue higher education simply because it’s handed over to them for free. You need to have a better reason.
4. Everyone else is doing it
If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too? Exactly.
5. You always assumed you were going to go for a graduate degree and have no other plan
Our lives are full of surprises. Tomorrow may not bring what you had planned. Think hard about what you truly want for yourself, and don’t just act out of habit or based on expectations. You may not currently have a plan, but you can make a plan, and that plan doesn’t need to include a stint in degree-collecting.
6. You worry that if you don’t go now, you’ll never go
Your target school will still be around next year, and most likely in five or ten years from now as well. Try and focus on what’s good for you now, and don’t just act out of fear of missing an opportunity. If the opportunity is meant to be, you can make it happen later.
Relate to one or more of these? You will be applying for the wrong reasons and should postpone your application.
Do you need help evaluating your unique situation and determining if now is the right time to apply? Already know that the time is right, but need help with your application? Our expert admissions consultants can help you at any and every stage of the admission process. Check out our admissions services for more information.For 25 years, Accepted has helped applicants gain acceptance to top undergraduate and graduate programs. Our expert team of admissions consultants features former admissions directors, PhDs, and professional writers who have advised clients to acceptance at top programs worldwide including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge, INSEAD, MIT, Caltech, UC Berkeley, and Northwestern. Want an admissions expert to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• Fitting In and Standing Out: The Paradox at the Heart of Admissions, a free guide
• Writing Your Career Goals Essay
• Can a Grad Consultant Help You Succeed?