Helping Your Student Think About Graduate School
Many freshmen enter college with the idea they will eventually go to graduate school. Very few new students can make a wise decision about something they will do in four years. By the time they are a junior in college, they’ll have a better idea of whether graduate school is a good option for them.
Here are good reasons to go to graduate school:
- Students have a genuine passion for the subject matter of their graduate studies.
- The career path students have chosen requires an advanced degree.
- Graduate school will move the student’s earnings prospects to a much higher level.
- Students realize that they have some personal weaknesses which graduate school will help develop.
Not a good choice includes:
- Students can’t find a job and decide to stay in school longer. The reality is that a graduate degree is not a guarantee for a good job.
- Students are not ready to get a job. Graduate school likely will not make students more ready.
- Students are waiting for someone else to graduate – generally a boyfriend or girlfriend. That’s a very expensive date when you consider the lost wages.
Should students decide to go to graduate school, they should only do so if they can finance it themselves. If a graduate program really wants a student, the student should be able to get a research or teaching assistanceship. Students can also get a job on campus as a resident assistant, advisor, or similar position. In many cases, these positions will pay for tuition. If students are going to have to pay for their own graduate education, they should think long and hard about whether the investment is worth it.
It’s generally unwise to pursue a graduate degree where students did their undergraduate work. If students are truly serious about graduate school, they should be willing to apply to other schools and accept the discomfort of starting over again at a new school. If students are unwilling to do this, then maybe they aren’t that committed to graduate school.
Graduate school can be exhausting. By the end of a student’s senior year in college they may not be ready to undertake such a challenge. But once students are out of school and earning a living, they might not be able to go back to school.
Deciding on graduate school is an area where a mentor can be an immense help. Students really need the advice of someone who has their best interest at heart, in addition to parents. .