Five Questions to Ask Before Quitting Your Job and Going to Graduate School

Do you have vague plans to return to school at some point and get some more education? Can’t go wrong with a different degree, right? Oh no. Earning an expensive degree without knowing exactly what you’re going to get out of it is a quick way to build up debt that won’t necessarily help you achieve your goals. So, before you (possibly) run into big trouble, here are five questions to consider before applying to school .

This post was originally published on the Muse website .

1. What are the requirements and do they seem interesting to me?

First, are you interested in additional research? You will never want to get an advanced degree just because you don’t like what you are doing now, or because you don’t know what you want to do next.

This means taking some serious thought and finding out what concrete evidence you have that you will enjoy what you are learning in the programs you are applying for. Take time to review the class descriptions and curriculum. Do they turn you on? Or just looking at them makes you cringe? If you can’t come up with a compelling case for why you’ll even enjoy the next year or two, that’s a pretty serious red flag.

2. What exact result do I hope to achieve by participating in this program?

Years of training in a bachelor degree – a great time to explore your interests , the same as the first few years of operation. Getting a master’s degree is usually not. The program is too short and you really need to take the time to focus on your goal, which you can’t do if you don’t know what it is.

Increase your chances of achieving your goal by knowing exactly what it is before you go for your master’s degree. This will allow you to tailor the experience to your needs and make the most of all the resources available to you. It will also help you determine which program is right for you.

3. What evidence do I have that these results are realistic?

Don’t be limited to marketing materials. Assuming you know what you want from a master’s degree, ask to speak with alumni and analyze the results of surveys for the programs you are interested in. You are trying to figure out how likely it is that you will achieve what you promised.

The numbers certainly help paint the picture, but communication with alumni is even more valuable in understanding how the program has played a role in helping students achieve their goals. If you talk to a few people who feel left without support for next steps, this should be a red flag.

4. Do I need this degree to do what I want to do?

Ask yourself if you really need another degree to do what you want. Is a Master’s Degree in Public Health Necessary to Work for a Nonprofit You Admire? Do you need an MBA to launch the clean tech startup you’ve dreamed of? May be. Maybe not.

Do your research on what is the perception of postgraduate education in your field. Go to LinkedIn and see how others have achieved what you want. You may find that you really need to get additional education, or you may find that gaining additional work experience would be just as valuable. Before diving in, it’s important to figure out what exactly .

5. How much will it cost, how am I going to pay for it and is it worth it?

Finally, you really want to think about how much graduate school will actually cost you and how exactly you plan to pay for it . Of course, education is invaluable and all, but that doesn’t negate the need to find a way to afford it.

Find out about your loan options and what financial assistance is available. Ideally, come up with several different strategies for getting them back, because unfortunately, you can’t always count on all of your current options to be available after graduation. Some people rely heavily on the assumption that after 10 years with a nonprofit, they can get a loan forgiveness from the government, but even that is in limbo and could change depending on the whim of Congress.

In addition to this, you should always think about your expected salary after completing your degree to see what the return on your investment will be – really ask yourself, is it financially worth it? Is this enough to pay off my loans? While it seems unfair to compare tuition (and education) to salary, this is a realistic and responsible approach.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to decide how you will measure whether a master’s degree is worth the time, effort, and tuition fees . For some, the opportunity to learn something interesting is enough. For others, it’s only worth it if there’s a specific career path at the end. Either way, find out what makes sense to you before you apply.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Quitting Your Job and Going to Graduate School | Muse


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