Is Grad School Necessary? 3 Important Questions to Ask

You’re almost to the end of your bachelor’s or associate’s degree – congratulations! So, what’s next? Some college students take a gap year before starting a career, while many others go straight into the workforce after receiving their four-year bachelor’s degree. Some college students even start grad school and graduate research. During your undergraduate degree, you may ask yourself “Is grad school necessary?”.

To help you answer that question, ask yourself these three important questions to find out if grad school is necessary FOR YOU. 

1. Can you be employed without going to grad school?

Not all jobs and career paths require you to pursue higher education, but some do. For example, if you want to be an accountant after you graduate with your Bachelor’s degree, then you don’t need to go to graduate school to get that job.

Will it help if you have a graduate degree? Probably, but it still isn’t necessary! However, if your career goal is to become a physician, then it is necessary to go to grad school. You will not get hired as a doctor without going to grad school.

Bachelor’s degree holders still have lots of job opportunities. But some places might want employees with graduate education. Post-graduate salaries and graduate credentials are what make prospective graduate students want to pursue grad programs.

Write down your desired career choices to see the employment rates and if graduate school is necessary to go to for those specific career paths. You can use College Raptor’s career finder to see which careers are an excellent match for you! This will help you decide whether or not to go to graduate school. 

2. Can you afford grad school?

Graduate-level program costs are more expensive than attending undergraduate programs when you look at the cost per credit hour. Take a look at your financial situation and see if grad school is something you can afford at the moment.

Do you have student loans already and will need to take out more for your graduate degree? If so, take a look at the student loan payments and your financial aid package to see if adding another degree is financially smart at the moment. As always, there are scholarships and private student loans available for students who want to attend grad school, so if it is something you want to do, make sure you have all your ducks in a row when it comes to your finances.

Long-term planning is key to making this significant investment for graduate school success. Use College Raptor’s scholarship search tool to find scholarships to use throughout grad school! 

3. Are you willing to make the time commitment?

It’s no secret that graduate school can be lengthy. Depending on which type of graduate degree you end up getting, you can spend another one to four years in college. If you’re already attending school for the typical four years as an undergraduate student, then anything after that can feel like a lot.

Graduate applicants are often discouraged from being employed while in certain graduate programs because of the large time commitment. Graduate classes require students to study longer, and often have more writing than undergraduate classes.

Before deciding to go to graduate school, ask yourself if you’re willing to sacrifice that time and take on that mental load. If you have a family or career, those things may have to be on the back burner as you’re navigating graduate school. It can be a major factor in whether or not grad school is right for you.

Does the Value of Grad School Payoff for You?

Overall, graduate school is valuable and can change the trajectory of a lot of students’ lives. The truth is, the necessity of grad school is dependent on the individual. Your career goals, financials, and willingness to make a huge time commitment should be considered when asking yourself if grad school is necessary.

Whether you’re looking to attend grad school for a career transition, a higher salary, or more work opportunities, it is possible to do it! After all, there are thousands of grad students a year who partake in these professional programs to receive another degree! Don’t let graduate loan debt, tuition costs, and difficult courses discourage you from applying to graduate-level programs. 

The great thing about going to graduate school is that you don’t have to go right away. Yes, some undergraduate course credits may not be eligible to use as prerequisites for your graduate degree after a certain number of years, but you have a grace period of transitioning from undergraduate school to graduate school.

If grad school is not the right option for you at this stage of your life, that’s perfectly okay! You can always apply later on if you decide you want to further your career or change career paths. For those students who have answered “yes!” to grad school is necessary, make sure you’re studying for your GRE, MCAT, PCAT, LSAT, GMAT, or other graduate school tests. We can’t wait to see what you do with your graduate and undergraduate degrees!

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