Getting Started

Thinking about grad school? Consider this before applying.

Written by Eric Titner

There’s no denying the fact that we’re currently living through extremely uncertain times—with everything from a persistent global pandemic and its resulting economic and social impact to waves of technological innovation forcing an evolution across nearly every facet of our lives. As we try to navigate through these unprecedented times, all of these volatile forces have led many of us to powerful inflection points in our lives. In such an unpredictable environment, it can be a challenge to figure out what strategies for personal fulfillment and career advancement make sense, as we wonder what work and life will look like in a post-COVID world and what skills we’ll need to master to succeed in the future.

Although this current era will most likely be remembered as a time of considerable disruption, even in the most volatile of times opportunities exist—especially for those who are brave enough to consider reinventing themselves and allow for growth and change. Chief among the options to consider at moments like these is continuing education. Whether or not to go to grad school is a common decision many of you might be currently thinking about. It’s long been said that those who embrace the notion of lifelong learning are best poised to steer through uncertainty and grab success from the mouth of uncertainty.

Going to grad school is a big move and one you should carefully think through before deciding whether or not to race full steam ahead. Is investing the time, money, and effort to go to grad school a worthwhile investment for you? Consider the following before making your final decision.

What are your goals?

Everyone likely has a different set of reasons for considering grad school, based on your individual life goals. Are you looking to advance your career or embark on a new professional path? Build new skills for personal advancement or just dive into a new hobby or area of interest? Make sure to have a clear understanding of your reasons for wanting to go to grad school so you can get started on the path to making an informed and careful decision regarding whether it is wise or even necessary to achieve your goals.

What will it cost?

In years past, grad school was considered a rock-solid investment in your personal and professional future. But times change, and it’s forcing folks to reevaluate the value of pursuing an advanced degree in this brave new world of rapidly evolving opportunities. A big factor that’s upsetting the old way of thinking is cost—simply put, the cost of earning a graduate degree has skyrocketed in recent years, and finding the funds to finance grad school has become more challenging. On top of this, the notion of borrowing your way through grad school has become increasingly less desirable as the stigma against burying yourself in student loan debt continues to grow and gain attention. When thinking about grad school, be sure to have a clear sense of all costs involved when determining if it’s a good decision for you.

Do you have alternatives?

When weighing the decision to go to grad school, ask yourself if the return on investment makes sense for you based on your specific goals or if there are viable alternative options worth considering. If your goals are centered around professional advancement, ask yourself if grad school is a requirement to move up the ladder in your field or if are there other avenues for growth. If your goals are more aligned with the pursuit for self-improvement, ask yourself if there are other ways to achieve these goals that may make more sense for you. When weighing any significant life decision, you should always consider the alternatives—and deciding whether or not to go to grad school is no exception.

In this era of uncertainty and change, it can be a great time to take stock of your life and retool. As we look forward into the future, reflect on experiences and lessons learned, and think about what we want out of life moving forward, it can be a prime opportunity to set new goals, take on new challenges, and work towards enacting positive change. If deciding whether or not to go to grad school is on your horizon, consider the point mentioned here to help you make the right decision.

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.