Everyone has probably fantasized at one time or another about what it would be like to have the title “Dr.” before his or her name, but only a select group of people actually makes that rite of passage and rightfully so. To put it mildly, graduate school is intense and requires an extreme amount of time, money, and commitment. The fact is that many people are so dazzled by the façade of what they think a doctoral degree is that they are shocked when they actually enter the world of academia to pursue that degree. Sadly, many of these students drop out sooner or later, and the only thing they have to show for their troubles is a substantial amount of debt. So where did they go wrong? Surely, there had to be something wrong with them, right? Well, the truth is that most of them are intelligent, reasonable individuals who simply wanted to get into graduate programs for the wrong reasons. Here are a few thoughts for you to consider to help you decide “Should I go to graduate school?"
Why You Should Not Go to Graduate School
Some people start applying to graduate programs because they are having trouble finding a job or because they don’t like their current job and think that having a graduate degree will help them land a better one. This is not guaranteed. This is also in line with those who enter graduate programs because it will look good on their resumes. Graduate school is far too large a commitment just for a line on a piece of watermarked paper. If you’re looking for additional skills to list on your resume, consider signing up for a workshop or some other form of training instead of a 5- to 7-year program. Another reason why you should not apply to graduate school is if you are doing it because you enjoy school and you are “good at it.” Of course, you should love what you study, but just because you’ve done well as an undergrad does not mean that you are cut out for graduate study. Unfortunately, if you choose to enter graduate programs for one of the reasons above, you could end up dropping out.
You should also never go to graduate school because you want to prove something to someone else or because you don’t know what else to do. Graduate programs are not games. If you are thinking about going to graduate school for one of those two reasons in particular, you should forget it.
Why You Should Go to Graduate School
The best reason to go to graduate school is because it is necessary for your desired field (e.g., law, medicine, psychology). It’s true that an advanced degree can also help you earn more money, but that’s further down the road. Graduate school will require a lot of hard work and dedication, but if you start with a clear vision of how your graduate degree will help you achieve your career goals, then you are on the right track.