For me, grad school was never an option, but a requirement, engrained into my psyche from a young age. I always planned on getting a Master’s degree in English, and I planned to use it to teach English. Now, I’m not so sure that I want to do that, but I still love/hate being a student, so I keep at it. How do you know if graduate school is worth your money, time, frustration, and sanity? I guess you never can truly know, but I’ll try to help. Ask yourself these questions before signing up. If you find yourself scared and excited, do it. If you’re violently vomiting by the end, I suggest you hop on over to the Real World.
- Will a Master’s degree enhance my knowledge of my career field? By this I mean, don’t get an M.A. in Art History if you’re planning on working on Wall Street. “I like working in finance, but I don’t like studying finance; I like art history.” The only reason I would say go for it is if you have unlimited funds and don’t mind spending your money on extra, unnecessary schooling. You could also become a professional student, collecting various degrees as you walk through life, but that’s expensive. If the answer is yes, then go to grad school. If you’re teaching high school biology and you really think you could benefit from a MS in Bio, then go back to school!
- Do I really like reading and researching enough to do it as a part-time job? Essentially, that’s what grad school comes down to. It’s a part-time job that you pay to do. Unless you’re a full-time student, then it’s a full-time job that you pay to do. You will be reading and writing papers until you cannot stand it anymore. If you didn’t like it as an undergrad, you definitely won’t like it as a grad student.
- Can I take constructive criticism (and sometimes not so constructive criticism)? Professors in grad school are not interested in your excuses or your sub-par level work. If you write a paper the day before it’s due and it’s not your best work, they will tell you. They’ll also try to help you improve your work because, well, that’s their job. If you’re too proud to accept their advice and criticism, then you probably shouldn’t be there. If you’re like I was and cower at anyone correcting you, really think about abandoning that before you get started
- But it’s only two years!How bad can it be? My friends, they will be the longest two years of your entire life. If you enjoy the subject, the years will be better and more rewarding. If you don’t, then prepare for the torture chambers. This also varies class to class; some classes you’ll love, some you’ll despise. Choose wisely and make your two years worth it
- Am I going to graduate school just to avoid the Real World for a little bit longer? If your answer to this is Yes, I say go for it because grad school does help with this dilemma. Also, though, it helps you realize where your passions lie. It also helps you network with other aspiring professionals, and some that are already in the field! Avoiding the Real World is a legitimate issue and should not be taken lightly. If you like to learn and are genuinely interested, GO TO GRAD SCHOOL.
Even though my time in grad school has been educational, rewarding, and priceless, I still feel like this dog.