The Next Step: Should I Go to Graduate School?
You’re nearly there! You’ve aced most of your undergrad classes already and are beginning to count the credit hours until your graduation. However, perhaps you’re a student who isn’t satisfied with having only a Bachelor’s degree. You have a hunger for knowledge and more drive than most of your classmates, so what’s next? Perhaps you have asked yourself “Should I go to graduate school?” The application process for graduate school often takes a minimum of one year to complete, so if you are interested in graduate school, you should already be thinking about graduate school. Deciding whether or not to go to graduate school is a huge decision, and you should consider several factors as you weigh the question “Should I go to graduate school?”
You know what kind of student you are. Do you make out a schedule of the semester’s tests and projects, color coding for each of your classes? Or do you wait for one of your friends or the professor to remind you two days before the due date? Do you attack studying as an athlete trains every day? Or do you prefer to condense everything into an all-nighter and fall asleep during the test? To survive graduate school, you must be a student who loves to learn and who will devote your mind to all the pressures and challenges your classes and professors will bring. You should be a student who accepts due dates and sets small goals that contribute to larger goals. Most importantly, you should be a student who will make studying the number one priority in your life. If you care more for spending time with family and friends or working hard in your current position than for devoting all your time to studying, then graduate school might not be the right choice for you right now.
Analyzing Graduate School
Besides the obvious increase in the level of difficulty, graduate school is very different from undergraduate school. Undergraduate school is full of students who just want to pass a class and get a degree. Graduate school is full of students who genuinely care about their fields of study and want to devote their working lives to applying their degrees. Undergraduate classes are often in large lecture halls in which professors lecture students with PowerPoint slides. Graduate classes are often condensed into small groups working toward one research goal or learning how professors teach by becoming Teaching Assistants. Undergraduate classes involve tests, essays, and group projects. Graduate classes involve all of theses in addition to theses, dissertations, teaching, and research—not to mention comprehensive exams. Regardless of initial feelings, you should consider all of these preferences before ultimately answering “Should I go to graduate school?”